Alice Oswald’s Dart and Ted Hughes’ Go Fishing are two poems about nature and water, but about experience as well. Their relation is then based on these concepts which can both be seen as an endless source of life, of energy. But these poems do also mention roots and identity, time passing, discovery, evolution, learning, and so much more.
Dart starts by giving an identity concept: a walker is physically and psychologically discovering himself. The expression “moving alive” shows a detailed exploration of life; but does it show us the illogical logic of the poet -in this case unmoving but alive and moving but dead- ? I personally think the poet wrote this to emphasize the visual aspect of the man, what she sees when looking at him. In fact, the voice of the poem itself stands for identity: “summoning itself by speaking”. We notice, in parallel, the contrast between life and death through several words: “alive” and “bones” for example.Order now
The notion of time is as well remarkable, but in a few different ways; firstly we can see a contrast between the youth of the river and the old age of the man -and this can be related to the metaphorical word couple “morning” and “evening”. Secondly there is a notion of personal time, which is the walker’s sense of time: “an hour in the morning is worth three in the evening”. We can literally understand through this quotation that there is a preference for mornings and this can be linked to tiredness as the man is qualified as “old”. Thirdly, the poet mentions an idea of eternity, and this suggesting cycles of life from generation to generation; it is life issuing from nature, from earth.
Concerning the water, the river, we notice many sides if it which are expressed through positive aspects: reality and dream, as well as pragmatism and poetry; but also through a negative aspect: it is that a river is calm at the source of it but it can become dangerous later on and kill.
There is a complicity, a union, a relationship between men and nature. And this is what Alice Oswald is trying to show us. The only contrast is that nature is benign, condescending, while men sometimes use the water and the nature for his personal needs, not caring for the nature’s personal comfort; men own, control, dominate and even pollute rivers and nature. For short, men disturb the peace of nature.
So we have here two sets of voices: one poetic -where the man respects the nature-, and one pragmatic -where the man disturbs the nature.
Through this whole first part of the poem, we notice shifts of voice and of point of view: it starts with the point of view of the poet who sees the old man and describes him and his acts (“He consults his map”), and then, at “An old man”, it switches to the walker’s point of view. The subject changes from “he” to “I” with which it seems easier to understand why this man here for is. But nevertheless we don’t, because he actually doesn’t: “I don’t know, all I know is walking”. We therefore share a feeling of ignorance and blindness while moving forward the path and the poem.
Because of some changes, the poem seems sometimes disconcerting: we notice a lack of clear links between sections that are describing nature. For example when we move from full lines to a range of one-word lines.