This poem is from the collection “Morton Diary”, also in Hughes “New Selected Poems”, written 1973. The poem itself seems to present two different worlds to the reader – that of nature and of humans. It starts off with the description of the surroundings and the atmosphere. Ted Hughes begins the poem with an alliteration – dawn-dirty light, describing a winter morning in such a peculiar way. The reader get the image of early morning with some sort off lack of sunshine, and heavy snow, to which he refers to as “the biggest snow Of the year”.
This is the time when the reader tests with the other world – the world of nature. The writer sees 2 dark-blue deer, and they are “alerted”. Immediately we get this feeling of tension between our world and theirs. According to the writer, the deer had happened into his dimension. The fact that the narrator is normally in a separate “dimension” from the pair of deer suggests how alien they are to him, despite his being brought up around nature and with a love for it. Hughes says the deer planted their years of secret deer hood on his vision of the abnormal which is in a way assertive.
The rhyme he uses here – years deer-hood clear emphasizes the impact on the reader through assonance, and makes the picture full. This quick glimpse into another world leaves the narrator feeling privileged, as if he can see into their lives, their “secret doddered” with short but deep connection between them and him. Each line in the next verse begins with a repetition of the word “and”, which contributes to that feeling of moment, helps the reader grasp and feel that moment, even be there with the narrator.
That repetition gives a feeling of slowdown, a slowdown in the events and even in time. At that particular moment it seems that these two worlds are not that separate anymore. We do not get this impression that the worlds should not meet, instead – it seems like these worlds are even connected. The writer describes this moment by using a metaphor – “the curtain had blown aside for a moment”. He certainly seems to lose an awareness of his surroundings, becoming fixed on the deer only, and the deer become strangely significant. ‘The deer had come for me. ” Making that sentence a separate verse makes the reader pause for a bit, it makes us stop and think, fully feel the atmosphere of that place at that moment, be a part of it. A magnificent work has been done by the author – his short and easy sentence turns out to be perhaps one of the strongest lines in the whole poem. At this point, the structure changes, and the deer seem to take control and command of the situation.
The fact that they “rode their legs” separates the deer from their physicality, so they become like spirits. This phrase also seems to give them some sort of power. They run away to the “snow-lonely’ fields. Sing that assonance it contributes to making even the reader feel more lonely in a way, makes the whole atmosphere lonelier and emptier. Perhaps Hughes suggests here that deer are separate from the instinct of heir running away, due to their being animals with such beauty and mystery.
There is something almost transcendent and heavenly as they “fly away up’ into the “boil of big” (white) “flakes”, again conveying the deer as mystical creatures, a magical force acting on Hughes’ life and even impacting the reader’s life. And by the end of the poem, Hughes seems to be left wondering if it ever happened, back to the “ordinary”. Through this, the power of the deer is shown and the narrator seems to feel that they had chosen to privilege him, and connect with him, whilst they had all the ability to remain hidden from him in their own dimension.