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Crow Alights by Ted Hughes

Crow Alights by Ted Hughes

Crow saw the herded mountains, steaming in the morning.

and he saw the sea

Dark-spined, with the whole earth in its coils.

He saw the stars, fuming away into the black, mushrooms of

the nothing forest, clouding their spores, the virus of God.

And he shivered with the horror of Creation.


In the hallucination of the horror

He saw this shoe, with no sole, rain-sodden,

Lying on a moor.

And there was this garbage can, bottom rusted away,

A playing place for the wind, in a waste of puddles.


There was this coat, in the dark cupboard,

in the silent room, in the silent house.

There was this face, smoking its cigarette between the dusk

window and the fire’s embers.

 Near the face, this hand, motionless.

 Near the hand, this cup.

 Crow blinked. He blinked. Nothing faded.

 He stared at the evidence.

 Nothing escaped him. (Nothing could escape.)

 "Among British poets, Hughes is the most haunted inheritor, from Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves, of the sensibility shaped by the appalling slaughter in World War I. His father was gassed in the trenches in that war; growing up in its aftermath, Hughes has come to see the cosmos as a battlefield. His is the world-view of a betrayed Fundamentalist, who,  discovering that God has no care for man’s fate, understands the universe to be governed not by divine love but by power. In Hughes’s earlier books, Nature appeared as a field of violent struggle where only the fittest survived. Such Darwinian determinism required its own unforgiving theology. These views of life are not meliorated in Crow. With a startling, composite myth, Hughes explores our fate in such a universe."

from Daniel Hoffman, A review of Crow, in New York Times Book  Review, April 18, 1971, pp. 6, 35-6

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One Response to “Crow Alights by Ted Hughes”

  1. shelley Says:

    this review of hughes has helped me to understand why violence is the major theme among his poems

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