How does Ted Hughes suggest sounds of the evening and communicate the extraordinary stillness of the scene in "Full Moon and Little Frieda"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first stanza of "Full Moon and Little Frieda" is where both sounds and stillness (dichotomous states) come together in the largest array. In the first line, Hughes suggests that the night is defined in its moonless darkness--moonless until the moon comes out later--by the sound of a dog barking and the sound of the "clank of a bucket." In the next line Hughes uses imagery to paint the picture of stillness by mentioning the spider's web, "tense" from being newly spun, awaiting the deeper evening when the dew will fall. He then immediately draws a second image of stillness with a brim-full pail of water acting as a mirror for a star that can move with the water's "tremor." In the second stanza, he suggests the sound of cows hooves and their swishing movement as they walk up a lane past hedges. The imagery of stillness comes directly with the suggested sound, as the cows' warm breath blows "wreaths" upon the hedges' leaves. Finally, Hughes presents a deeper image of stillness as the moon steps back "like an artist" to admire the beauty of Earth. Hughes suggests simultaneous sound with the image of peopled Earth pointing at the moon in amazement echoing Little Frieda's cry of "Moon! Moon!"