Friday, December 10, 2010

"THAT MORNING" by Ted Hughes

INTRODUCTION
The very title of “That Morning,” the next salmon poem in the second half of River, recollects the Eliadean illud tempus moment of participation in godly energy and a prelapsarian communion with all created beings. Both “That Morning” and “The Gulkana,” the subsequent salmon poem, relate the experiences of Hughes and his son Nicholas while on a fishing trip in southern Alaska in the summer of 1980.
In “That Morning” the two men, waist deep in an Arctic river, feel the press of an entire school of salmon sliding past them. Here “doubting thought” retreats, while the body becomes “a spirit-beacon / Lit by the power of the salmon.” The walls that divide man from man and man from all other orders of creation slide away as the fish elevate the fisherman’s perceptions “toward some dazzle of blessing.” The experience reconstitutes reality for Hughes. And when the gold bears enter and sport, and eat salmon as if sharing their dinner with the fishermen, the entire event becomes a paradisal journey’s end, a mo­ment of participation in the allness of being, lit by the beams of spirit brightness. So the men stand “alive in the river of light / Among the crea­tures of light, creatures of light.” Mind, body, the moment of perception, and the perceived are transfigured into one unity, one Divine Body of Imagination.)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION
The very title of “That Morning,” the next salmon poem in the second half of River, recollects the Eliadean illud tempus moment of participation in godly energy and a prelapsarian communion with all created beings. Both “That Morning” and “The Gulkana,” the subsequent salmon poem, relate the experiences of Hughes and his son Nicholas while on a fishing trip in southern Alaska in the summer of 1980.
In “That Morning” the two men, waist deep in an Arctic river, feel the press of an entire school of salmon sliding past them. Here “doubting thought” retreats, while the body becomes “a spirit-beacon / Lit by the power of the salmon.” The walls that divide man from man and man from all other orders of creation slide away as the fish elevate the fisherman’s perceptions “toward some dazzle of blessing.”
The experience reconstitutes reality for Hughes. And when the gold bears enter and sport, and eat salmon as if sharing their dinner with the fishermen, the entire event becomes a paradisal journey’s end, a mo­ment of participation in the allness of being, lit by the beams of spirit brightness. So the men stand “alive in the river of light / Among the crea­tures of light, creatures of light.” Mind, body, the moment of perception, and the perceived are transfigured into one unity, one Divine Body of Imagination.
The poem has an unconventional rhyme-scheme however the rhythm sounds usual. Hughes has frequently used the run-on lines and some lines run through three to four stanzas. We can also trace alliteration in some of the lines:
‘Till the world had seemed capsizing slowly’
‘Waist-deep in wild salmon swaying massed’
Hughes has also taken the liberty of repeated words:
‘That came on, came on, and kept on coming’.
However, the repetition of words, here, creates not only a pleasant sound effect but also stresses the massive drift of salmon and their increasing number. 

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