A Critical Comparison of The Stag And Roe-Deer
There are six stanzas, which are each seven lines long. This is
written in free verse, it has no rhyming scheme and there is no rhythm
that I can see. The lines are about ten words long, apart from the
last two lines, which are shorter. The title is simple and
straightforward. It is significant that the whole of the stanza is
about people except for the last line, which is about the stag,
keeping a distinction between the two.
The poem is set at Exmoor, which is well known for stag hunting.
Exmoor is in the countryside and has a low population, so the idea of
a traffic jam there is unusual. The presence of so many people is
ludicrous. It takes place in November, a month associated with death
The Stag is written in the third person singular, it is through the
eyes of an unattached observer. This poem is about a hunt, and the
prey is a stag that is running elegantly through the surrounding
countryside. There are lots of spectators and one of them; we are led
to believe, is describing the events of the pursuit.
This poem is proud and refined at the beginning; a stag is running
through his fields and over his forests. This idea is beautiful and
natural. The poem then, however quickly turns sour and the
gracefulness is lost. The beauty of the run changes into the terror of
the chase. The pace of the poem picking up also reflects this.
This poem also uses personification throughout, it is called "his
private forest", and again near the end the stag is described as
"weeping", giving the stag human qualities.
The people in this poem are seen as being selfish and undignified,
which creates a comparison to the Stag who is graceful, and it makes
the whole event seem very uncivilised.
This poem shows the horror of hunting animals, and using
personification makes the idea seem even more inhumane. The words used
to describe the stag are usually associated with humans. This makes
you ask yourself if this animal were human would it be being treated
in such a way, and if not, why do we feel we have the right to treat
weaker creatures in such an appalling manner.
The poem gives us the feeling that the stag is in great pain, the use
of words such as "weeping" and sentences such as "his heart became
just a club" reflect this. This use of word manipulates the reader
into feeling a great pathos for the stag.
The end of the poem has a great build in tension, it seems threatening
and it has been used effectively throughout the poem. It is quite a
distressing poem and the anti-climax created makes us feel a great
anger towards, not only the hunters, but also the spectators. The
ambiguity at whether the stag dies or not, or perhaps whether the
crowd did not see the death, leaves us feeling incensed at the
disappointment of the gathering.
The idea of the natural and the 'man-made' world merging is very
important in this, as with most of Ted Hughes...