Friday, 1 July 2016

"Relic" by Ted Hughes is a descriptive poem. It lays its setting to the sea with irregular end rhyme pattern and two stanzas of unequal number of lines. Based on observation of, Hughes made use of imaginative description; he told an undefined entity how the jawbone got to the sea as if he witnessed it "broken by the breakers or tossed/ To flap for half an hour and turn to a crust" but the use of "or" between "breakers or tossed" showed that his description was imaginative.

The poem is about a jawbone found deep down the sea. If one claims that Ted Hughes had love for water, sailing and the things relating to the sea; it will not be disputed. He told of how he found the jawbone, how it was thrust, living in the sea among other things like claws, skulls, crabs, dogfish, etc. He told of how the jawbone lived gnawing and stretching to feed but later ended at the beach. The poet described the deep sea as a battleground where friendship does not exist "In that darkness camaraderie does not hold" (line 5) then at the end line of the poem tagged the jawbone "a cenotaph". From lines 14-16, he claimed that nothing gets better in the sea and thereby described the sea's digestion of things into its seabed as its biggest achievement.

The tittle of the poem generalized the interest of the poet. The first stanza of the poem is 11 lines while the second stanza is 5 lines; which looked like the summary of the first stanza. Grammatically, the clause "I found this jawbone" made it look spoken than written, as if someone was standing in front of the poet and could as well see the jawbone himself/herself. "Continue the beginning" sounds poetic genius, which means "lets go back to the description of the sea". Besides the large use of imagery, personification existed in great amount from line 6-9 "And the jaws, Before they are satisfied or their stretched purpose/ Slacken, go down jaws; go gnawn bare. Jaws/ Eat and are finished and the jawbone comes to the beach". Line 12 "Time in the sea eats its tail," happens to be personification as well. "This curved jawbone did not laugh" is also a personification.

The jawbone was described in many forms, he symbolised it in different ways by calling it "Indigestibles" in line 13. It was metaphorically called a cenotaph: "A cenotaph is a monument erected to honour the dead whose bodies lie elsewhere; especially members of the armed forces who died in battle".

"In that darkness" symbolized the sea, "The deep" also symbolized the sea. Other poetic devices in the poem are enjambments, alliterations, etc.
Few among the many themes to deduce from this poem is the longevity in things than beings, the unwholesome experience deep down the sea, and the havoc of duration. In accordance with the description of the poet, the jawbone had lasted very farther than the animal that owned it.


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)


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