Hughes argued that the secret of writing powerful poetry was to ‘imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it...just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it.' These thoughts are what enabled Hughes to write so thoughtfully and imaginatively about animals.
Roe-deer is a wonderful mixture of symbolism and reality. The ‘Two blue-dark deer' are physically present, they stand and they stare at their human observer. Hughes compounds nouns and descriptors and there are many examples in this poem. Underlying the poet's viewpoint is the acceptance that the natural world of human and non-human life exists in different dimensions. This sounds a little science-fictionish perhaps, but if Roe deer is considered on this level it is best understood. The deer have access to secrets denied to Hughes. He, like humankind, has only just arrived into consciousness on the Earth, and the rest of life is ahead of humans in ‘knowing' instinctively, but not intellectually, what is going on.
Hughes, representing Man, is in an ‘unnatural form' - the car - and his vision of the natural snow world is unclear as symbolised by the ‘snow-screen vision of the abnormal'. He is unable to make a communication with the deer's world of the natural - he does not remember from Mankind's forgotten ‘natural' past the password or the sign that will allow him to enter their dimension - ‘where the trees were no longer trees, nor the road a road'. The messengers of the natural world had come for him but Man's inability to read the signs means that they go back to the strange ‘tree dark', swiftly and almost magically: ‘seeming to eddy and glide and fly away up/Into the boil of big flakes'. Hughes, as Man, returns to the ordinariness of his human world as the snow blanks out both the footprints of the deer and physical evidence of this symbolic and super-natural experience.