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Adela Mo

Mr Koszary
Poem Commentary


Pike is a poem written by Ted Hughes, with the intention to explore a hidden depth within humans; a darker side
that we all have beneath the surface.

The first stanza of the poem describes the pike in a positive manner, but also informs us of its voracious nature. The
pike is introduced as being three inches long, perfect pike, implying that it is a baby pike. This imagery suggests
that the pike is innocent and perfect at birth. Alliteration is used in the phrase perfect pike, which shows that it is
a perfectly designed predator, and is highly evolved to survive. The tone starts to darken throughout the stanza, as
the pikes predatory persona starts to reveal to the readers. The phrase green tigering the gold is used to describe
the appearance of the pike. This suggests the strength and ferocity that the pike has, as tigering refers to tigers,
one of the most powerful creatures on land, similar to how the pike is a powerful creature in water and has features
suited for hunting. Alliteration is also used in the adjectives green and gold, which shows that the perfect and
majestic gold is tarnished by the green. The lexical set of predatory adjectives are contained within this stanza:
killers, tigering, and malevolent, which challenges our preconceptions the pike was described to be perfect,
but it is innately vicious.


The prepositional phrase over a bed of emerald indicates a sense of depth, contrasting to the surface
mentioned in the previous stanza. Emeralds are considered to be of high value, and the fact that the pike is guarding
over it connotes that the pike is superior and dominant, as if it was a king protecting its treasure. The surface of the
water seems to be filled with life, which contrasts with the black leaves underneath. The heat-struck lily pads
connotes an idea of superiority of the pike, as the lily pads sacrifice themselves in the scorching heat, in order to
keep the pike cool. The black leaves could refer to lily pads that have died and sacrificed for the pike, and also
creates a tense and mysterious atmosphere underneath the surface. The pond in this poem is a metaphor for
humans on the surface, we present a controlled side, but the vicious pike symbolizes the darker side hidden within
us.


At the end of the fourth stanza, the syllables of the phrase The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals are
inconsistent, as the phrase is deliberately broken up, creating a sense of awkwardness. This represents that the
contents of the poem are not fully in control, which reflects how humans seem to be in control on the surface, like
the consistent structure of the poem, which is written in quatrains. However, the contents of the poem are
inconsistent and less controlled, reflecting the deeper side of us.


The fifth and sixth stanza explores the violent nature of pikes, showing its malevolence and brutality. It refers to Ted
Hughes previous experience with his father, when they went fishing together. A pike swam into the mouth of
another, and they both suffocated and died. This suggests that arrogance can be a danger, as it had gotten both
pikes killed. It symbolizes that we can be self-destructive, but it is not worth it. The phrase as a vice locks-The same
iron in this eye creates a sense of masculinity, as various tools are mentions, of which one of the tools are locks,
representing strength. The relationship between the poet and the pond can be seen in the phrase had outlasted
every visible stone of the monastery, relating to his bittersweet memories, as he had seen it change throughout
time. The past participle verb outlasted indicates that the pond is part of nature; it is permanent, having outlasted
every visible stone of the monastery. The monastery is built by humans and is not part of nature, and it is now
ruined, unlike the pond. This symbolizes that humans are less significant than nature, exploring the idea of nature
versus human civilization.


The pond is described to be as deep as England, which is a simile used to suggest the scale of emotions and
thoughts that someone can hide from the rest of the world. It is compared to England, as it is a permanent place and
will always be there. This indicates that the poet Ted Hughes has been at the pond when he was young, bringing
back bittersweet memories as he reminisces his childhood.


The poet has a moment of self-reflection as he silently cast and fished, contradicting to the phrase in the previous
stanza, stating that the past nightfall [he] dared not cast. The noun nightfall suggests that during night, things
start to become surreal and people sometimes show their true nature. An oxymoron still splashes shows
uncertainty and further adds to the idea of surrealism, as still and splash contradict each other. The alliteration
suggests sinister thoughts hidden in our dark sides, attempting to escape. The metaphor dark pond compares the
pond to fears, creating a sense of mystery. A sinister and ominous tone is used in this stanza, from the lexical set
frozen, silently and dark, which creates a tense atmosphere.


The last stanza of the poem displays a moment of reflection and self-discovery. The last phrase, That rose slowly
toward me, watching suggests that the figure is the poets dark side rising up, and seeing his other side staring
directly at him. The past tense verb rose can have a dual meaning it could suggests his darker side coming to
surface, while it can also refer to the flower. Roses are a symbol of beauty, but it can also be deadly, representing a
vicious side to an elegant flower. The present participle verb watching brings the scene alive with imagery, as if
the pike was watching. Contrasting to the beginning of the poem, where the pike is controlled, and its dark side is
hidden, it rises and comes to the surface.