???Football at Slack??? By Ted Hughes
Many poets write poems that convey positive experiences. ???Football at Slack??? by Ted Hughes is one of these poems. It describes some men playing football in the countryside and contrasts the men??™s active and enthusiastic effort with the dull weather. It also shows how the weather doesn??™t dampen the men??™s spirits as they continue to play despite the heavy wind and rain. In his poem, Ted Hughes uses various techniques to describe the men??™s positive experience of playing football.
Firstly, in stanza??™s one to three, Ted Hughes uses alliteration and imagery to convey the positive experience of the men. When the poet describes the ball??™s movement he uses alliteration:
???blown ball bounced???
The harsh ???b??™ sound of the three words makes us focus on the ball like the men who are putting all of their concentration into the game. It also describes the sound the ball makes as it hits off the ground and players as it is passed around. Hughes also uses imagery to convey the men??™s positive experience:
???the merry-coloured men
Spouted like water???
This use of a simile gives us the idea of the men??™s movement and determination to get the ball. Just like water being pushed out from a pipe, we gain the impression of the forceful and upward movement of the players as they try to head the ball. ???Merry-coloured men??™ also gives us the idea of the men??™s enthusiastic and enjoyable game play. These all contribute to the men??™s positive experience.
Furthermore, in stanzas four to six, Ted Hughes uses imagery and word choice to show how the awful weather conditions do not detract from the men??™s positive experience. He uses a metaphor to describe the rain:
???the rain lowered a steel press???
This gives us a sense of Mother Nature lowering the clouds and producing terrible rain. It also makes us imagine the colour of the sky, a dark grey, the force of the downpour and creates a depressing mood. Hughes??™ clever word choice also helps describe the men??™s positive experience:
???their shouts bobbed up???
Here, the word ???bobbed??™ again gives us the image of water and the idea that the men are still cheerful. The words ???bobbed??™ and ???up??™ give us the idea of the men being above the water and surviving the heavy downpour. It also makes us imagine their movements around the field. This contrasts with the depressive weather from stanza four and brightens the tone of the poem, which again shows the men??™s positive experience.
Moreover, in the final two stanzas, Ted Hughes uses word choice and imagery to reinforce the men??™s positive experience and there is also a suggestion that the men??™s enthusiastic attitude seems to affect the weather. To contrast the weather and the men??™s attitude, Hughes uses clever word choice:
???the humped world sank foundering…
But the wingers leapt, they bicycled in air???
Here, the word ???humped??™ reminds us of the hilly setting and ???sank??™ gives us the idea that the world has disappeared underneath the vast amount of water that has fallen. Despite this the players are still enthusiastic and we see this through their movements. The word ???leapt??™ contrasts with ???sank??™ to make us imagine that the men are above the water and that it is not restraining their game play. ???Bicycled??™ also gives us the impression that the men are being very active and that the rainfall is not detracting from their enjoyment of the game. The men are obviously still enjoying this positive experience even though the weather is terrible. In the final stanza, the weather changes and it becomes sunny. This is conveyed through the poet??™s use of imagery:
???a golden holocaust,
Lifted the clouds edge to watch them.???
The ???golden holocaust??™ is a metaphor for the sun. ???Lifting the clouds edge??™ personifies the sun, as if it is lifting a blanket to see something interesting. This is effective as it contrasts with the previous damp weather. These final two lines are different to the rest of the poem as the weather has improved and is dry. This suggests that maybe the men??™s determination throughout their game has caused the sun to come out. This again adds to the men??™s positive experience of playing football.
In conclusion, Ted Hughes poem ???Football at Slack??™ conveys a positive experience through the men??™s enthusiasm and effort during a football match taking place in awful weather conditions. Hughes??™ clever use of techniques used to contrast the men??™s positive attitude and the terrible weather creates a successful poem that supports the idea of a positive experience playing football. Whilst, the poem focuses on the weather, in some ways it is a metaphor for life. Simple things, such as playing a game of friendly football with others can provide such enjoyment for a period of time that people forget their problems and everyday annoyances. We feel the strong sense of camaraderie from the players which adds to the positive feelings conveyed throughout this poem.