The International Journal of Ecopsychology (IJE)



In his verbal still-lifes, Ted Hughes reverses the traditional dynamics of scopophilia by putting the human eye under the dying beast’s petrifying gaze. So doing, the poem entwines human and animal into an interval creature entangling human language and animal body, thriving between life and death, in a dimension akin to the bardo—in Tibetan, the “interval between two states” where the shaman is violently put to death by an animal demon to be resurrected as a new lifeform. Hence Hughes’s still-lifes are not only from the interval, but also for the interval period we are going through—the pivotal era known as the Anthropocene, and whose denouement could be self-destructive for our civilization—: they propose profound transformations in our relationship to nature before we reach the point of no return. This paper will illustrate the triple process (reversed scopophilia, human-animal entanglement, dying as a regenerating experience) through three of Ted Hughes’s most violent animal still-lifes: “Pike,” “The Jaguar” and “Second Glance at a Jaguar.”