“To Paint a Water Lily” by Ted Hughes is a poem that explores the beauty and fragility of nature. The speaker describes the process of painting a water lily, and how the delicate flower is transformed into art.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the scene before them: a water lily floating on a pond. The speaker watches as the lily opens up to the sun, and notices the delicate petals and the way the light reflects off of the water.
The speaker then describes the process of painting the lily. They start by sketching the outline of the flower, and then fill in the colors with care. The speaker pays attention to every detail, from the shadows cast by the petals to the highlights on the water.
As the speaker paints, they think about how fragile and fleeting this moment is. The lily will eventually wilt and die, but in this moment it is perfectly preserved in art.
“To Paint a Water Lily” is a poem that celebrates both nature and art. It shows how beauty can be found in the simplest things, and how art can help us appreciate the fragile beauty of life.
In Ted Hughes’ “To Paint a Water Lily,” the speaker examines the numerous complexities of nature by revealing the obstacles he faces as an artist in capturing its genuine significance. He sees a thrilling little realm of continual motion and activity hidden beneath the pond’s tranquil stillness, when he looks at it.
To the speaker, these lilies are like “white ghosts / That haunt the green and stirring depths.” He must confront his own preconceptions about beauty and art in order to create a work that accurately reflects the natural world.
The speaker uses vivid language to describe the water lilies and the pond they inhabit. The lilies are “like white ghosts,” which suggests that they are not really part of the natural world. They are haunting reminders of the artificiality of art. The pond is “green and stirring,” which makes it seem alive and full of potential. The water lilies float on the surface of this “living” pond, but they are separate from it. This separation is what the speaker must overcome in order to create a true work of art.
The speaker must confront his own preconceptions about beauty and art in order to create a work that accurately reflects the natural world. He must find a way to bridge the gap between the “white ghosts” of the water lilies and the “green and stirring” depths of the pond. Only then will he be able to paint a water lily that is truly alive.
To paint the water lily and do it righteously, Ted knows that he must do more than simply describe the plant; he must also capture its setting. The energy with which the speaker depicts this incredible task, as well as his profound respect for nature’s magnificent complexity, is demonstrated through tone, phrase choice, imagery, diction and figurative language.
The title To Paint a Water Lily creates an interesting dichotomy because on one hand, the speaker is To painting the water lily and on the other, he is To painting the water lily in its natural environment. The title sets up a collision of opposites and suggests that the painting will be about more than just the plant.
The poem opens with the speaker describing how he must “paint” the water lily. The word “paint” is significant because it suggests that the speaker must not only capture the physical appearance of the plant, but also its essence. The word “paint” also has connotations of artistry and creativity, suggesting that the speaker views his task as a challenging one.
The speaker begins by describing the water lily as a setting for the activity that takes place around it. He describes “a green level of lily leaves” that “reefs the petal’s chamber and paves the flies’ furious arena,”–a cover for the event below and a ground for the action above. The image depicts nature as a complicated body with layers that extend beyond its apparent inactive surface according to the speaker.
The poem To Paint a Water Lily was written by Ted Hughes. In the poem, the speaker begins by introducing the water lily as a stage for the activity that goes on around it. He describes “a green level of lily leaves” that “reefs the petal’s chamber and paves the flies’ furious arena,” a cover for the activity below and the ground for the action above. The picture establishes the speaker’s view of nature as a complex body with layers that reach beyond its seemingly inactive surface.
The speaker goes on to describe how “the blackflies / weave their curtains in the air / over this green theatre,” providing both contrast and movement to the scene. The “blackflies” are described as being “like bits of charcoal / Puffed from a forge,” giving them a sense of heat and energy. Their movements are described as “curtains,” which suggests both the physical barrier they create and the way in which they divide the space.
The speaker then shifts his focus to the water lily itself, describing it as “A white face / Upturned to the sky / To catch the sun.” The image of the water lily is one of stillness and peace, in contrast to the frenetic activity of the flies. The lily is described as being “upturned,” which suggests both its vulnerability and its willingness to receive the light of the sun.
The poem ends with a shift in focus back to the flies, which are described as “Like bees / Bumbling in the white petals / To make their honey.” The image of the bees shows the way in which even these creatures, which are often seen as pests, can be beautiful and beneficial. The poem To Paint a Water Lily is Ted Hughes’s exploration of the hidden beauty and complexity of nature.
The language the speaker uses to describe the lily leaves, highlighted by alliteration and delicate imagery, also conveys his or her awe for nature’s “outward appearance,” which is reflected in the face it shows most plainly to casual view. The speaker personifies nature by referring to it as a “lady” with “two minds,” implying those that exist above and below its surface.
Ted Hughes To Paint a Water Lily is a poem about, surprisingly, painting a water lily. But it’s also about so much more than that. To paint a water lily is to try and capture the ephemeral nature of beauty, something that is here one moment and gone the next. The speaker in the poem tries to do just that, using language that is at once beautiful and evocative.
The first stanza of To Paint a Water Lily begins with the speaker describing the process of painting a water lily. He talks about how one must prepare the canvas first, making sure that it’s clean and free of any blemishes. Only then can one begin to paint the delicate petals of the flower.