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Thistles Analysis



Author: poem of Ted Hughes Type: poem Views: 31

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Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men

Thistles spike the summer air

And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.



Every one a revengeful burst

Of resurrection, a grasphed fistful

Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up



From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.

They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.

Every one manages a plume of blood.



Then they grow grey like men.

Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear

Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.





Submitted by John Paul Hampstead






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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In the poem ‘Thistles’, Ted Hughes describes the life cycle of the thistles, and how difficult it is to get rid of them.Ted Hughes argues that the world will never live in peace that wars will always emerge through memories in the way that thistles springback through seeds. Hughes uses well-fitted, negative diction; expressive similes,metaphors, and other language techniques; and sound devices, syntax, and rhythm to express his view. The title straight away introduces the element of nature giving you the essence of the poem. Although the title is short, its effectiveness is heightened as it encourages the reader’s imagination. Ted Hughes portrays effectively his opinion on ‘Thistles’ as he is very negative throughout using powerful adjectives such as ‘blue’ and ‘black’ which give the poem a more sombre feel. The final lines of the poem leave the reader with a profound thought. The increased punctuation at the end slows down the poem to increase the effect of the profound thought. This poem is very rich with metaphorical language as the ‘Thistles’ symbolise negative feelings and Hughes explores how these feelings never go away. Also, the alliteration implies the imagery of a bruise, caused by a physical contact. Then it is seen that the thistles pollinate and reproduce ‘Every one a revengeful burst ‘. This conveys that there is a motive, a reason, for the reproduction; other than simply to maintain its species. The motive is to fight a battle, a continuous war.Hughes has given the thistles human features and emotions, such as the ability totake revenge. Also through personification, Hughes expresses his speculation of
how, the ‘Thistles’ have their own purpose in life. It seems that history repeats itself,because of nature. Human beings are also a part of nature itself, this is conveyed through the subtle comparison between human and thistles. ‘Of resurrection, a grasped fistful / of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up.’ Here we encounter the thistles ready and armed for a battle.

| Posted on 2016-06-24 | by a guest


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Pavan Kooner -GCSE english practice essay:
How does the author convey his feelings about the thistles?
In the poem Thistles we hear about Hughes feelings towards the plants and how no matter what stands against them they will return determined to remain. Hughes compares the thistles to warriors and describes their battle for survival.
In the first stanza Hughes describes the aggressive nature of the thistles and how they repeatedly withstand the attacks of animals and men who attempt to clear the weeds. Hughes describes them as evil things and states how their seeds spike the air and are like a curse. Hughes then describes how the thistles are like warriors and even their origins are filled with war as they are described to grow from a Viking. In the last Stanza Hughes talks about how the Thistles are like men and when the current warriors grow old their sons replace them; like men they keep on fighting.
In the first stanza we hear how the Thistles fight against the cows and the hoeing hands of men the cacophonic qualities of this line immediately induce ideas of conflict and harshness in the readers mind. This cacophony tells and the alliteration in hoeing hands illustrates the harshness and aggressive nature of the weeds. Hughes continues to describe how the Thistles spike the summer air the sibilance in this line almost represents the poet spitting in disgust of these violent plants and tells the reader that he thinks negatively of them; this idea is stressed by the enjambment throughout the stanza which increases the speed at which the poem is read: this is symbolic of the pace at which the weeds continue to grow.
Hughes describes how each thistle is a revengeful burst/ Of resurrection, the assonance of the letter r stresses the idea that each thistle is born with evil intentions, this tells us that the author believes that each one of the plants is evil from birth. To enforce this idea Hughes describes the Thistles growing from a decaying Viking this description of how the thistles grow from a fallen warrior show that even in the plants roots there is aggression and the thistles are born warriors. Hughes is saying that it is the Thistles nature to be violent and aggressive; it is their instinct. In the whole of the third stanza each line is stopped. These full stops make the lines appear more like statements and facts rather than generalisations for example when Hughes writes Every one manages a plume of blood. The full stop turns this into a fact and a reassurance of the thistles aggressive nature.
In the last stanza we are told that the thistles do die and like men they grow grey and then they are mown down defeated. However they are replaced by their sons who are stiff with weapons. This anthropomorphic idea suggests that Hughes sees these plants as determined fighters and compares them to the human race; men continue determined to fight for what was originally theirs. In the last stanza the speed of the poem is slowed down and we hear a more aphoristic view on the thistles and that Hughes like in many of his other poems such as Pike has respect for the aggressive yet determined nature of the thistles.

| Posted on 2013-03-09 | by a guest


.: :.

Pavan Kooner -GCSE english practice essay:
How does the author convey his feelings about the thistles?
In the poem Thistles we hear about Hughes feelings towards the plants and how no matter what stands against them they will return determined to remain. Hughes compares the thistles to warriors and describes their battle for survival.
In the first stanza Hughes describes the aggressive nature of the thistles and how they repeatedly withstand the attacks of animals and men who attempt to clear the weeds. Hughes describes them as evil things and states how their seeds spike the air and are like a curse. Hughes then describes how the thistles are like warriors and even their origins are filled with war as they are described to grow from a Viking. In the last Stanza Hughes talks about how the Thistles are like men and when the current warriors grow old their sons replace them; like men they keep on fighting.
In the first stanza we hear how the Thistles fight against the cows and the hoeing hands of men the cacophonic qualities of this line immediately induce ideas of conflict and harshness in the readers mind. This cacophony tells and the alliteration in hoeing hands illustrates the harshness and aggressive nature of the weeds. Hughes continues to describe how the Thistles spike the summer air the sibilance in this line almost represents the poet spitting in disgust of these violent plants and tells the reader that he thinks negatively of them; this idea is stressed by the enjambment throughout the stanza which increases the speed at which the poem is read: this is symbolic of the pace at which the weeds continue to grow.
Hughes describes how each thistle is a revengeful burst/ Of resurrection, the assonance of the letter r stresses the idea that each thistle is born with evil intentions, this tells us that the author believes that each one of the plants is evil from birth. To enforce this idea Hughes describes the Thistles growing from a decaying Viking this description of how the thistles grow from a fallen warrior show that even in the plants roots there is aggression and the thistles are born warriors. Hughes is saying that it is the Thistles nature to be violent and aggressive; it is their instinct. In the whole of the third stanza each line is stopped. These full stops make the lines appear more like statements and facts rather than generalisations for example when Hughes writes Every one manages a plume of blood. The full stop turns this into a fact and a reassurance of the thistles aggressive nature.
In the last stanza we are told that the thistles do die and like men they grow grey and then they are mown down defeated. However they are replaced by their sons who are stiff with weapons. This anthropomorphic idea suggests that Hughes sees these plants as determined fighters and compares them to the human race; men continue determined to fight for what was originally theirs. In the last stanza the speed of the poem is slowed down and we hear a more aphoristic view on the thistles and that Hughes like in many of his other poems such as Pike has respect for the aggressive yet determined nature of the thistles.

| Posted on 2013-03-09 | by a guest


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OK Good.For God sake

| Posted on 2013-02-02 | by a guest


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i think this poem relates to war and the battles between the people we know and love, and every generation adds to the trechary of the social conflict. then again, im just starting to analyse poetry.

| Posted on 2013-01-11 | by a guest


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This is a very good poem. But it is also confusing at the same point but if you try to read it again and again and try to understand its meaning. You\'ll understand =D good luck guys :D

| Posted on 2010-09-16 | by a guest


.: :.

beautiful poem, one of his best works! i have never been so intreagued by a poem until now! amazing!

| Posted on 2010-02-03 | by a guest


.: :.

In the Thistles Ted Hughes describes the life cycle of the thistles and how difficult it is to get rid of this flower. He compares the tough weed-like plant to generations of warriors, rising again and again against great odds to defeat the best efforts of man to eradicate them from their gardens. One can almost hear Hughes chuckling from the grave about how seriously generations of literary critics have taken his musings on this weed. He uses visual, tactile, and kinesthetic imagery in this poem to directly convey a vivid experience to his readers.
In the first stanza Hughes uses tactile imagery to describe thistles physically being eaten by cows, their needle like thorns pressing against the rubber tongues of these gentle animals- in line 1. He further uses kinesthetic imagery of the attack against the hoeing of hands of men in line 1. This sets the stage for the rest of the poem establishing clear visual pictures in the readers mind of thistles surviving in a world where men and animals are determined to wipe them out. The thistles remain just as determined to live and flight for their existence. The emotion is one of anger a revengeful burst line 4. Hughes also describes how thistles regenerate themselves even after they seem to have been destroyed. This is the continual resurrection line 5, which Hughes describes, which suggests how difficult it is to kill the ubiquitous plant.
Hughes also uses the metaphor of thistles aging like men; they are born, they grow old- they grow grey (line 10) and too weak to fight. Like weakened soldiers they are Mown down (in line 11), and die. Like men a new generation of thistles raises to take the place of the old. They too are Stiff with weapons (line 13) and they too flight to take the the same ground (line 12). On a different level you could say that Hughes was also commenting on the folly and futility of war and how this flaw in human nature continues generation after generation.

| Posted on 2009-05-18 | by a guest




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