Old Age Gets Up – Ted Hughes – Comments

Old Age Gets Up

Stirs its ashes and embers, its burnt sticks

An eye powdered over, half melted and solid again
Ideas that collapse
At the first touch of attention

The light at the window, so square and so same
So full-strong as ever, the window frame
A scaffold in space, for eyes to lean on

Supporting the body, shaped to its old work
Making small movements in gray air
Numbed from the blurred accident
Of having lived, the fatal, real injury
Under the amnesia

Something tries to save itself-searches
For defenses-but words evade
Like flies with their own notions

Old age slowly gets dressed
Heavily dosed with death's night
Sits on the bed's edge

Pulls its pieces together

Ted Hughes (1930 - 1998)

The difficulty in awaking to the day when old = how to give life to burnt sticks? Can a little flame be resurrected … in due course maybe?

The eyes a little hard to adjust to daylight … they maybe half-melted but we must be thankful that they do eventually adjust … at the same time those early morning thoughts are quick to fade away … focusing on the day and remembering in the opening haze of early awareness

The window frame is compared with old age … strong, long lasting condition, never changes each day, will be around for many years, centuries maybe

All is gray with no colour to the day. And then that beautiful cynical statement on age deterioration ‘Numbed from the blurred accident / Of having lived, …’ and perhaps that inescapable condition of losing memory … and emphasis on how sad this is … being a real injury – like a broken leg … and later words evade like flies with their own notions … highlights the difficulty the mind has in focusing on words when there is lost recall and searching is in place

The window frame is seen as a scaffold … it is a strong metaphor dictating the emotional feeling of the aged associated with impending death? … time leads us all to the ‘scaffold’

something tries to save itself … a wonderful personification … and to survive to get up, movements are slow … and that slow awaking coming alive … heavily dosed with death’s night … coming to the end of life, equated to night … however, eventually some success in the sitting on the edge of the bed and the pieces have been put together for the body to function.

A little depressive and a bit of a bleak view of life; but you must give credit to the creative words in generating the groping of awareness in early morning awaking.

Ted Hughes on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Hughes
He was Poet Laureate in 1984 and held the office until his death

2 thoughts on “Old Age Gets Up – Ted Hughes – Comments

  1. I have never managed to enjoy Ted Hughes works. I find them annoying for some unexplained reason. I’ve read a great deal about him, and seen various interviews, but I always come to the opinion that he was not a very nice man! Perhaps that puts a mental block in my mind.

    • He was/is a very gifted and prolific poet … much loved by the Queen Mother … and of course is always associated with Sylvia Plath and his troubled personal life … which certainly influenced some of his work … I enjoyed reading ‘Birthday Letters’ in that regard, Also I have recently listened to a CD (BBC) where he gives his introduction to poetry explaining how he became interested in poetry as a child after his early interest in animals … he equates a poem to an ‘animal’ with its own life … And I went to Uni in Yorkshire so I can relate to his sequence of poems on the Calder Valley and Bronte land … I hope you find something from his work appealing independent of any personal hang-up on his nature.

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