Summary of "Pike" by Ted Hughes.     

lit24 | Student

Ted Hughes was an avid angler from his boyhood days who enjoyed keenly fishing for the predatory pike. The pike is a born killer - "killers from the egg."  It survives by eating other fish and is also cannibalistic -"suddenly there were two. Finally one." Ted Hughes tells us that this poem "Pike" grew out of his memories of his days of days of pike fishing:

"By looking at the place in my memory very hard and very carefully, and by using words that grew naturally out of the pictures and feelings, I captured not just a pike, I captured the whole pond including the monsters I never even hooked."

The poem is anti-romantic for even as it describes in minute detail the beauties of nature it reminds the readers of the violence and evil lurking deep inside it and relates it to our every day life:

"Stilled legendary depth:

It was as deep as England. It held

Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old

That past nightfall I dared not cast"

Darwin's theory of 'survival of the fittest' which is so vividly captured in the description of the two dead pikes is equally true to the human condition:"one jammed past its gills down the other's gullet." The pond where the pike live and survive by eating one another is as deep and complex as the web of human relationships in England: "it was as deep as England."

Unlike for the romantics like Wordsworth for whom Nature was a source of comfort and joy and which always rejuvenated them and revived their spirits, Nature for the Moderns like Ted Hughes provided objective correlatives which taught them cruel and merciless lessons.