Critical Analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda” by Ted Hughes
“Full Moon and Little Frieda” is highly symbolic poem of Ted Hughes. Its contrasting images are reason behind its popularity. Its symbols are highly influencive and are mostly related to the autobiography of Ted Hughes. Frieda is the name of Ted Hughes’ daughter. This poem depicts the relationship between father and daughter. It is the favourite poem of Ted Hughes. Perhaps, Ted’s everlasting love for his daughter makes this poem extra delightful. Though he has written many other poems with great interest; some of them are remarkable but this poem has charm of its own.
Title of the poem is highly symbolic. Two contrasting images have been portrayed by the poet. First is moon and the second is Fried. Moon is a huge image whereas his daughter little Frieda is a small image. In this way, both these images are contrasting and they are entirely opposite to each other symbolically. But the remarkable element of title of this poem is its symbolic significance. Full moon is Ted’s symbol, whereas little Frieda is his daughter. Thus, main theme of this poem is the relationship between father and daughter.
The poet creates setting of the poem with winter evening; there is no sound except the barking of dog and clanking of bucket. He addresses his daughter Frieda “you listening to it”. The imagery created in first line of the poem pertains to sound; barking of dog and the clank of bucket. Second imagery is of “spider’s web” and that too tensed. First two images indicate the attentiveness of child; when the child hears them, she concentrates on them. For instance, when a bell is rung in front of a child, she stops crying and concentrates on its sound. Similar scene has been depicted in this poem. Though in that age child has no awareness yet she unconsciously concentrates on the sounds. So far as second image is concerned, it is also symbolic. Dew drops on spider’s web tense it. It shows the weakness of a child. A little drop has very less weight yet it makes the web tense. Symbolically, child is weak just like spider’s web and a tiny harm to the child can tense her.
The poet creates another imagery; a bucket full of water and the reflection of star in it. Firstly, this image indicates the mastery of Ted Hughes. When we read the lines “A pail lifted, still and brimming—mirror; To tempt a first star to a tremor”, a strange sensations can be felt. Secondly, if symbolic meaning is concerned, the reflection is actually the mirror of child, which is bright; it is poet’s anticipation. He is prophesying the future of her child. He is imagining it and positively predicting it. Thus, there is sense of anticipation in these lines.
Thereafter, the poet, as usual, talks about animals viz. cows. Here minute imagery of cows can be witnessed; their foggy breaths, dark skin and the flow of blood similar to Dark River have very skillfully been illustrated. Furthermore, the cows are boulders; they are moving while maintaining balance; they are keeping milk from flowing. Images of cows symbolize fragility in the child. Cows are maintaining their balance in order to keep the milk flowing. Similarly, balance in life is necessary so as to avoid any tragic incident. Child is weak; she needs much care. The dark skin and stones are symbols of danger; blood is the symbol of rareness. The whole scene in this poem is very symbolic. We can witness anthropomorphism in this scene; it is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. In this case, these non-human entities are cows. It may be considered an innate tendency of human psychology.
“you cry suddenly, ‘Moon! Moon!’”.
As discussed above, moon is a symbol. It actually is father of child i.e. Ted Hughes. The child has uttered the words moon! moon!; she is calling for help. No one can care better than the father of child. Thus, she is calling her father. It is also evident from this scene that man [child] has been placed against the elemental forces of nature [moon].
Last lines of the poem are artistically written. “The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work”. Imagine a painter; when he paints a painting, he takes a step back and observes his work minutely. Similarly, the moon [symbol of child’s father] has stepped back and seeing his art [symbolically Frieda]. The artist has been pointed by his art.
In a nutshell, this short poem of Ted Hughes is full of symbols. It indicates the weaknesses of child, happiness of father and security for child. Apart from symbols, the poem also demonstrates the artistic qualities of Ted Hughes. He has masterly created sensuous images. These images have been illustrated in contrast to each other. There is pastoral setting in the poem, therefore, every image is related to pastoral lifestyle. Pictorial qualities of Ted Hughes are wonderful. There is no denial the fact that he is master in sketching beautiful images. He is the greatest fan of Geoffrey Chaucer, therefore, he knows how to make pen pictures of natural objects. For-fetched metaphors have been used by the poet. There is clear description of natural objects. When the poet sees his daughter, he predicts her positive future. Thus, there is a theme of anticipation in this poem. There is also a theme related to love; especially the love between father and daughter and the love between the artist and his art. It is rare to find such freedom of line accompanied by appropriateness and inevitability, so that it seems to have a form as tight as a sonnet. It follows the technique of onomatopoeia. In short, themes, symbols, writing style and perfect images make this poem favourite of Ted HughesHugs.