Pike by Ted Hughes

Pike, three inches long, perfect

Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.

Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.

They dance on the surface among the flies.


Or move, stunned by their own grandeur

Over a bed of emerald, silhouette

Of submarine delicacy and horror.

A hundred feet long in their world.


In ponds, under the heat-struck lil-pads-

Gloom of their stillness:

Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.

Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds


The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs

Not to be changed at this date;

A life subdued to its instrument;

The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.


 Three we kept behind the glass,

Jungled in weed: three inches, four,

And four and a half: fed fry to them-

Suddenly there were two: Finally one.


 With a sag belly and the grin it was born with.

And indeed they spar nobody.

Two, six pounds each, over two feet long,

High and dry and dead in the willow-herb-


One jammed past its gills down the other’s gullet:

The outside eye stared: as a vice locks-

The same iron in this eye

Though its film shrank in death.


A pond I fished, fifty years across,

Whose lilies and muscular tench

Had outlasted every visible stone

Of the monastery that planted them-


Stilled legendary depth:

It was deep as England. It held

Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old

That past nightfall I dared not cast


But silently cast and fished

With hair frozen on my head

For what might move, for what eye might move.

The still splashes on the dark pond.


Owls hushing the floating woods

Frail on my ear against the dream

Darkness beneath night’s darkness had freed,

That rose slowly towards me, watching.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s