Friday, 22 March 2013

11aEn1 - Unseen poem No.2

Hi 11aEn1, (This is the small, lovely class only! Pay attention!)

Here's an unseen poem for you to try and analyse:

Football at Slack

Between plunging valleys, on a bareback of hill
Men in bunting colours
Bounced, and their blown ball bounced.

The blown ball jumped, and the merry-coloured men
Spouted like water to head it.
The ball blew away downward -

The rubbery men bounced after it.
The ball blew jumped up and out and hung on the wind
Over a gulf of treetops.
Then they all shouted together, and the ball blew back.

Winds from fiery holes in heaven
Piled the hills darkening around them
To awe them. The glare light
Mixed its mad oils and threw glooms.
Then the rain lowered a steel press.

Hair plastered, they all just trod water
To puddle glitter. And their shouts bobbed up
Coming fine and thin, washed and happy.

While the humped world sank foundering
And the valleys blued unthinkable
Under depth of Atlantic depression.

But the wingers leapt, they bicycled in air
And the goalie flew horizontal

And once again a golden holocaust
Lifted the cloud's edge, to watch them.

Ted Hughes

Ideas for what to analyse:
  • Is there rhyme in the poem? If so, what is the pattern and why/why hasn't the poet used it? What does it do to the speed and rhythm?
  • What is the poem about? What ideas can we see through the poem and does the poet have a specific message? Do they have any clear attitudes?
  • How has the writer used language? Are there any specific techniques used? Do certain words stand out?
  • What is the imagery? Pay attention to how setting is portrayed.
  • How are the lines structured? Is there enjambment or are there end stops? What does this do to how we read the poem? Are there any caesuras or very short sentences?
  • What is the tone of the poem?

This is due on Tuesday 26th March. 

Enjoy your weekends,

Miss D


  1. I think that the poem is about life throwing tricky obstacles at you and that you need to overcome them. I say this because in the fourth stanza Hughes writes 'the hills darkening around them to awe them' This demonstrates that there will be times in your life where you feel scared and lonely and in darkness however, in the fifth stanza Hughes goes on to say that the men came 'fine and thin, washed and happy' this shows that although the men were at a scary point they did not give up however, they continued to play in the rain and were still happy. I think the weather represents life, the men represent humans and that Hughes is saying life will be hard and all odds can be against you however, if you keep your head up and remain happy throughout your time of darkness. Furthermore, in the last stanza Hughes states the 'golden holocaust lifted the cloud's edge to watch them' this illustrates that the weather was taken aback by the response from the men and decided to watch them, I think this shows that if you do keep your head up when you are in a bad part of your life that others will notice and respect and look up to you for it.

    (I have no idea)

  2. Thank you, Natasha. These are all really perceptive ideas.
    That phrase 'golden holocaust', which you picked out, is quite interesting. Would anyone care to explore its meaning?

    Miss D

  3. Ted Hughes uses multiple language techniques throughout the poem. One technique he uses is metaphors. This is shown through the line “golden holocaust. Lifted the cloud's edge.” Hughes is using a metaphor to describe the sun as a golden holocaust, saying it is like a new rise. This use of a metaphor makes the reader imagine the sun and its presence in the poem when it appears. The quote can also be interpreted as personification as it is saying the sun is lifting the cloud; whereas in reality it is just shining through. This again makes the reader think about the sun and its power.

  4. In my opinion Ted Hughes the author of poem known as "Football at Slack" is recalling a game of football that was played in the rain and therefore because of the bad conditions such as rain, wind and mud the football game looked quiet ridiculous. However the players continued to play the game with enjoyment and pleasure with out letting their good mood be put away by the bad weather conditions.
    Furthermore the poet says "And their shouts bobbed up coming fine and thin, washed and happy.While the humped world sank foundering." This suggests the the poet is trying to get the reader to understand that when something bad takes place a humans normal reaction is to have a bad mood. However in the poem he shows that although the rain and mud made the game hard to play in and made the game seem glum the players choose not to be dispirited and moan (like much of the world would naturally do "while the humped world sank foundering") But instead the players decided to be different, they decided to be jolly people and continue playing joyously and enjoying their game of football. This is supported by the word "Bouncing" which has connotations of energy.
    At the end of the poem Ted Hughes incorporates two metaphors " Bicycled on air" and 'Flew horizontal" This in my opinion shows that to Ted the players had a profound effect on him as the players made the game exciting and lively for him.
    Lastly Ted adds some imagery he says " Once again a golden holocaust lifted the cloud's edge, to watch them." This suggest and creates the image that the "golden holocaust" which is the sun was impresses with their efforts and decided to reward them with providing them some good weather conditions once again.
    In conclusion the poem by Ted Hughes tries to portray the message that life would have many downs but the important thing is not to be disheartened by the events and try to make everything seem positive by being happy and in a good mood.

  5. I think the poem is about how things change over time to do with life. I think the fact that the writer repeats 'bounced' sort of shows how life and moods fluctuate. The ball could be seen as a life goal or aim as they men are chasing after it. I think also the valleys are described as 'plunging' which could reflect plunging into a task or challenge which is life. When Hughes says 'coming thin and fine, washed and happy while the humped world sank foundering' shows that you are still able to find positive aspects in certain situations in life even though things are not going well around you. This is backed up as a lot of hyperbole is used to emphasise the men's moods. The writer says 'they bicycled on air and the goalie flew horizontal'. Even through the bad weather that is around them which is shown when Hughes says 'And the valleys blued unthinkable Under depth of Atlantic depression'. they are still putting the utmost effort into the game and enjoying it at the same time. The colour blue is mostly associated with sadness and coupled with the abstract noun 'depression'it shows that the setting does not necessarily mirror the mood of the men. I think golden holocaust is a juxtaposition which also shows light in something terrible like the holocaust.

    I don't know if any of this is right but yeah.

  6. Q1. In this poem there isn't any rhyme present and I think that the speaker has done this purposefully.I believe that the lack of rhyme and structure in the poem is reflective of life itself as the speaker is stating that life isn't easy and that it takes many unexpected turns.Furthermore, the vary in stanza and line length prevents the poem from flowing, consequently, the poem's speed is constantly changing which again reiterates the fact that the speaker is demonstrating that life is inconsistent and that it does not follow a set path.

  7. I believe that the poem is about mans insignificance to world around us. For example in the fist stanza, the men are said to be between "plunging valleys" and are said to be wearing "bunting colours". This brings on negative connotations, due to the word "bunting" being thought of as dull, in contrast to natures vibrant brilliance. In the last stanza, the sun is also described as a "Golden Holocaust" that exterminates the clouds around them. This strengthens the readers view that man is powerless against the power of nature, which is strong enough to wipe them all out at once, in the style of a mass genocide, I.E The Holocaust
    -Not Craig Sterriker

  8. I think the phrase "golden holocaust" represents the sun breaking through the clouds and is an oxymoron because the word "golden" connotes purity, value and prestigious status whereas the word "holocaust" connotes pain and suffering. This phrase therefore suggests that playing in the rain and splashing through puddles is challenging but when the sun breaks through the clouds and shines on the pitch, it creates a feeling of excitement and freedom. Furthermore, the use of "once again" suggests that there are cycles in life and you will constantly have to face problems and overcome them. In addition when Hughes writes "between plunging valleys" this implies that there are times in life where you feel trapped and at the bottom and it take lots of hard work to get to the top, also when Hughes writes "they all just trod water" this suggests that there is always a solution to any problem and when Hughes writes "washed and happy" this suggests that there is always an upside and you shouldn't let small problems get you down; in this case the players were still happy and also were treated to a wash.

    -Daniel J.

  9. I think that the poem is saying how life is a game and we are it's players much like those in the football match. In the poem it says "rain lowered"; the link to weather demonstrates the troubles and problems that occur in life. As in life there will be many rainstorms I think Hughes is trying to portray the idea life will have many troubles, however just like the players in the game, you need to continue playing the game of life and that will lead to you being happy in the end, just like then players who are said to be "washed and happy". Happy clearly depicting the results of playing the game of life being positive.

  10. it looks like ted was talking about emotional journeys liking to a game- football match, which shows the repetion of the pronoun ball which is being manipulated by man, showing that the ball can be the only thing that can lead them towards the mens destiny.the men began to persue the object maintainig control and giving encouragement - they all shouted together and the ball blew back- which indicates high spirits in the game:high spirits in life.but eventually ted mentions the ball probably being worn out- while the humped world sank, which could be a metaphor linking towards the object, the ball gets tired of beinng pushed around and wants it to give up.furthermore the men end the balls suffering by finnishing its journey- which says the golie flew horizontal. refering to football a golie would fly horizontal to save the ball,however he doenst mention where the ball ends up, because its a choice we have to make in life.

    ps: what the hell am i talkin about?

  11. I think the poem is saying how nature is like a powerful force, within this poem. This is shown when Hughes writes "the ball blew away... the ball blew back" This could be interpreted as nature having a certain control over the players in this poem. The men are seen as toys in this poem. This is suggested by "men in bunting colours". By the men being toys, this could suggest that they have no thoughts or no feeling towards the weather and nature, thats why they keep playing.
    Futhermore, the colours of the men's clothes contrast with the weather depicted in the poem. This conveys the insignificance of the players compared to nature. I think this could be a huge metaphor, regarding humans. We cant control nature and things that happen around us, so we just have to get on with is

  12. i think the poem is about how powerful nature really is. while these men play football, everything that happens is due to nature, "the blown ball bounced". it shows that nature is more powerful then the men themselves, "the blown ball jumped, and the merry-colored men, spouted like water to head it. the ball blew away" the weather is also shown to mock the men, no matter how hard they try the weather gets the better of them and wins.the poem could also be about, the men not being discouraged no matter what gets thrown at them, they always carry on. the weather could be the struggles that people go through, the ups and the downs of life. But at the end they come out strong and happy,"hair plastered, they all just tread water to puddle glitter and their shouts bobbed up Coming fine and thin, washed and happy"