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Ted Hughes was a modern English poet and children’s writer. Since his childhood, he was a keen lover of animals and birds. A number of his works are named after animals like “The Thought Fox”; his earliest poem and “The Rain Horse”; his earliest story. The poem we are going to discuss is also named after a bird Jaguar.
In this poem, the poet who has visited a zoo describes the worst condition of animals in it by comparing them with lifeless things. By doing so, he tries to expose the brutality of men over other living creatures and finally talks about the enthusiastic Jaguar to depict that hope always prevails even among the animals.
In the first stanza, the poet describes a number of animals in the zoo. According to him the Apes are yawning and adoring their fleas. The word ‘adore’ does not seem to suit the situation.
However, the poet wants to tell that the attraction towards the Apes was because of their playing over the branches. However, now they have been enslaved and the only thing they can do in the cage is to adore the fleas.
Next, the poet describes parrots that are screaming for nuts that the passersby have brought. Their screaming is compared to the cry that one makes on the fire.
This depicts their painful condition and the cruelty of man over them. The ‘cheap tarts‘ probably suggest that the parrots are using there attractive and colorful feathers to get food from the visitors.
The lion and tiger that are normally active and swift have also become lazy in the cage and are tired of it. They seem to be still like the sun. Next, the poet describes Boa constrictor (snake) which is coiled and seems to be like fossil as it cannot move out of the cage.
All these animals which are kept for amusement fail to attract the people by their laziness. The cages seem to be empty the animals seem to be dead and like painting on the nursery wall but quite unattractive. Only the stink or the body odor makes them seem alive.
The people aren’t interested in seeing these animals and pass hurriedly the cages. A cage becomes a center of attraction for the visitors. It is the jaguar’s cage. People seem to be hypnotized, like a child in the dream, at the site of Jaguar.
The Jaguar is showing the signs of its nature. It is revolting against the cage and it seems that it could break at any time. The Jaguar doesn’t seem to be in boredom. Its eyes remain fierce. The term ‘blind in fire’ refers to its rage and anger.
In the next line the term “Bang of blood in the brain” is an alliteration that refers to its power. He whirls around in the cage quickly in anger and desire. The cage that has slaved it physically cannot enslave its vision and enthusiasm.
There is an attitude of wildness and freedom when he walks in the cage. It seems that the world is rolling under the feet of the Jaguar. The Jaguar is not looking outside to look beyond the horizon, rather Jaguar itself is the horizon.