Ted Hughes, That Morning, Poem, its Summary & Analysis

In Nutshell: Hughes opens "That Morning" with a fantastic sight of a bounty of fish in a stream surrounded by mountains and in the foggy early morning South Yorkshire. The writer's fishing expedition develops into a mystical experience. The writer is blessed by the holy light of gift when they see fish. The heavenly light left him a visionary who was full of admiration and tenderness for the creature, the salmon with its silver scales transmitting the glorious amazing light, even though he had gone to the location for killing fish.
On the other hand, the poem briefly examines animal behaviour and its primal ferocity. Out of nowhere, two bears approach the artist. They plunge and seize fish for sustenance, ripping at it fiercely, to the writer's utter amazement. Currently, the two constrained emotions of tenderness and savagery are developing side by side.

Text of the Poem

We came where the salmon were so many

So steady, so spaced, so far-aimed
On their inner map, England could add

Only the sooty twilight of South Yorkshire
Hung with the drumming drift of Lancasters
Till the world had seemed capsizing slowly.

Solemn to stand there in the pollen light
Waist-deep in wild salmon swaying massed
As from the hand of God. There the body

Separated, golden and imperishable,
From its doubting thought – a spirit-beacon
Lit by the power of the salmon

That came on, came on, and kept on coming
As if we flew slowly, their formations
Lifting us toward some dazzle of blessing

One wrong thought might darken. As if the fallen
World and salmon were over. As if these
Were the imperishable fish

That had let the world pass away –

There, in a mauve light of drifted lupins,
They hung in the cupped hands of mountains

Made of tingling atoms. It had happened.
Then for a sign that we were where we were
Two gold bears came down and swam like men

Beside us. And dived like children.
And stood in deep water as on a throne
Eating pierced salmon off their talons.

So we found the end of our journey.

So we stood, alive in the river of light,
Among the creatures of light, creatures of light.

Analysis in Bullets

  • The poem exhibits both primary and secondary motives. His main driving force is to satisfy his fundamental survival needs by catching salmon to prevent famine. His secondary goal is to surround oneself with spectacular natural species in order to experience a spiritual "benefit."
  • Through the use of bears and fish, this poem elaborates on the idea of violence.
  • “As if we flew slowly, their formations”; this statement shows that the poet is daydreaming about his own world, where he experiences blessings, tranquilly, and harmony.
  • It portrays life as it really is. Ted Hughes aims to convey that, in this way, life continues. There are many pleasant days in life, but they might all end abruptly due to an incident.
  • Furthermore, it demonstrates the harshness of strong over weak. It is a function of natural law, as Social Darwinism would have put it. “Destroy the weaker for pleasure; if not for pleasure than for need”
  • When a person is stress-free, they may see salmons in peace and harmony, but when they have watched the cruelty of bears, they begin to perceive brutality everywhere.

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What are major themes of Ted Hughes' That Morning?

Major themes of the poem are: theme of good and evil, violence integral to nautre, primitivism and mysticism.

What is the message in Ted Hughes poem That Morning?

The poem symbolises life. Through thick and thin, the life goes on. Violence and peace, good and evil are integral to nature.

Important Note: You can share your interpretation and join the conversation below!

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