Football at Slack by Ted Hughes Analysis of Language
The language of the poem is distinctive in its use of verbs. Scan the verses and identify the types of verbs used. Can you suggest why they fit the scene?
In the first verse there are three verbs: plunging, bounced, and bounced.
Plunging and bounced are effective in fitting the scene because they are words synonymous with football: footballs bounce, and players plunge for the ball, a goal, an attack. They are all normal verbs that are commonly used and describe a visible action. In the second verse there are also three: jumped, spouted, and blew.
Jumped and spouted imply someone actively doing something, this relates to football. Blew does not, but it is used to tell us what the ball is doing, so it is fitting that it is an abstract verb. The other two are normal verbs, again, used to describe something that we can physically see occur. The third verse contains five verbs; bounced, jumped, and blew again, and shouted and hung. Again, a verb that seems passive and inactive such as ‘hung’ is utilised to tell us about the ball, and shouted is used to stress the activity occurring during the game and the excitement. The fourth has five: piled, darkening, mixed, threw, and lowered. Piled connotes an image of the men piling atop each other competing for the ball, darkening is a gerund which actually describes the scene and provides imagery, mixed implies chaos, this intensifies the connotation of fun, threw could connote an image of a goalie throwing a ball back to his team, and lowered is used to connote imagery. Another interesting use of verbs in the text is ‘bobbed’, in the fifth paragraph, an obvious reference to the motion of the ball. The same is applicable to the use of ‘flew’ in the seventh verse. ‘…sank foundering’ (a verb phrase) could be a reference to water, used to support the simile “Spouted like water to head it”.
Football is a team game; each player depends on his fellow. Can you find an...