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To Paint a Water

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Ted Hughes believed that nature is far more violent and dangerous than man realises. How did he communicate this message in the poem?  The writer makes a deceptive start. He deceives us and misleads us to a rather different conclusion than his. Our initial impression is that we will be told how to paint a water lily whilst an artist is painting one. It also makes me think of Monet’s Water- lilies.

In my mind I picture a beautiful lake shaded by large leafy willow trees, a bridge dominating the view and an army of dragonflies over a lily filled pond. It is an idyllic view. However it is not the impression formed by the poet Ted Hughes. Ted Hughes wants us to understand his view of nature by describing it as an arena, “the flies furious arena”, which makes me think of an ancient Roman arena, where gladiators fought to the death of their opponents. In Ted Hughes’ mind, the flies are no different from the gladiators. It paints a much darker picture than the impression given by the title. The flies fight their prey to the death, not for entertainment but for survival. Ted Hughes however portrays this as entertainment, as in ancient Roman spouts, to spectators when it is not. He tells us that it is a fast efficient killer, ” First observe the air’s dragonfly, that eats meat, that bullets by”. When the dragonflies are in the arena they are without mercy, it is a predator by nature.

To human ears, during the battle, loud humming noises can be overhead. These are the shouts of injured insects fighting for survival, fighting to the death. “There are battle- shouts everywhere and death- cries everywhere” We know that the humans are unaware when we are told that the battle- shouts are “inaudible”. Humans only notice the beauty of the blood- sport, which they are unaware of, “so the eyes praise to see the colours of these flies”.
Dinosaur creatures are the flies that dominate the lily pond. “Prehistoric bedragonned times crawl that darkness with Latin name”. Latin is old and almost forgotten in today’s society; Ted Hughes is describing the dragonflies like this also. The darkness improves our vision of this event; it creates the element of danger in our minds.

Ancient is the best word to describe the dragonflies here, for in the poet’s eyes, whilst

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