Comparison of "Thistles" by Ted Hughes and "Mountain Lion" by D.H Lawrence

Essay by sam_k_90A+, August 2006

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Q: Poets are often concerned with the connections between man and the natural world. Choose two poems and explain how the poets' attitudes are conveyed through the choice of language.

"Thistles" effectively shows how Ted Hughes is able to use an extended and sustained metaphor of a negative facet of nature in order to portray the destructive, repetitious nature of man. The choice of subject for this metaphor, representing mans' brutality is also successful in showing how man is linked to, and a part of, nature. The tone of "Thistles" is more reflective and a statement of 'what is', "Mountain Lion", by D.H Lawrence, however, has a distinctive negative mood as the poet shows the link of man to nature as domineering and destructive to the latter party. Although the simplistic and often negative diction of "Mountain lion" plays an effective part in conveying the theme of the piece, in contrast to "Thistles" the language of this poem is not the main technique used it is rather the events of the poem that more deliberately and clearly convey the poet, D.H. Lawrence's views on mans' connections to the natural world.

The first stanza of "Thistles" is devoted to the introduction of the main metaphorical subject of the poem, conveying the "thistle's" setting in the present, and thus not immediately portraying their representation of mankind; this deduction is caused by the contrast of the "summer air" in this first stanza compared to the winter of the second. Although the link between nature and man is not evident here the poet already grants the "thistles" similar attributes to the violence of men - the "blue black pressure" can be analogous to a corpse; possibly a foreshadowing effect for the connection that is made between the "thistles" and the "Vikings" who represent...