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Crow by Ted Hughes
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Crow (1970)

by Ted Hughes

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A murder of Crows*

Crow - From the life & songs of the Crow.

by Ted Hughes.

"From Gods nightmare, Crow is created and God, who feels pity for this ugly little creature, shows him around Creation. But Crow gets involved, plays about and more often then not messes things up. So God gets fed up with him. "

Crow sloughs off persona after persona, Crow is Bran, Crow is Arddu the dark one. He is Chronos the emasculator, Oedipus , Mans advocate & Gods conscience. At one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes others and is always duped himself.

This was the fourth book (adult) of poetry by Ted Hughes, and is easily the most bleak & disturbing. By ransacking the worlds folklore, the poet creates a figure that strides omnipresent through his own personal mythology, laying to waste all it perceives, including itself. Although this started as a Project for the American artist Leonard Baskin, it easily transcends it's original purpose & Crow re-appears as Shaman.

This is Crow as deicide, for ever tripping over it's own chaos, this is Crow as victim, cowering in it's own shadow.

As I have already said, this is bleak and very disturbing, but what I haven't said is how very, very funny it is. The humour is black, black as Crow.

A. Alvarez wrote in the Observer, "Each fresh encounter with despair becomes the occasion for a separate, almost funny, story in which natural forces and creatures, mythic figures, even parts of the body, act out their special roles, each endowed with its own irrepressible life. With Crow, Hughes joins the select band of survivor-poets whose work is adequate to the destructive reality we inhabit".

http://parrishlantern.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/murder-of-crows.html ( )
  parrishlantern | Jul 6, 2012 |
Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives chronicled a literary movement named “the Visceral Realists.” Crow: from the Life and Songs of the Crow by Ted Hughes offers the reader a kind of visceral realism. The poetry cycle recounts the life and times of Crow, a folkloric character, comedian and trickster. The collection ranges across various types of poems: fairy tales, lullabies, legends, comedic shtick, and parody. Like the crows one sees everyday, Crow scrabbles in waste, carrion, and garbage. He is a scavenger, appropriating things, a collector of junk. The poem titles bear this out, “Oedipus Crow,” “Crow Tyrannosaurus,” and “Crow Tries the Media.”

Crow sleazes amidst a corrupted version of Biblical events from Adam and Eve to the Crucifixion; he struggles to exist against the merciless attacks of a Sadean Mother Goddess. As Camille Paglia wrote in Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, “Sade’s demonic mother nature is the bloodiest goddess since Asiatic Cybele. … She is Darwin’s nature, red in tooth and claw.” Hughes masterfully balances brutal violence with dark comedy. Crow is poetic anarchism, raw and unflinching. The literary equivalent of a sternum punch or the opening riffs of the Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the U.K.,” Crow acts like Johnny Rotten, attacking respectable idols and traditional institutions with an amorphous insatiable rage and glee. Harpo Marx as re-imagined by the Marquis de Sade.

In addition to the volcanic poetry within, the Faber edition includes seven poems not in the original 1970 edition. The front cover of this short book has a marvelous illustration by Leonard Baskin, Crow rampant, legs muscular trunks supporting an obscene mass with a beaked head peeking out.

http://driftlessareareview.com/2011/11/20/crow-from-the-life-and-songs-of-the-cr... ( )
  kswolff | Nov 20, 2011 |
I rarely read poetry, but I enjoyed this strange little book by Ted Hughes. It's full of dark imagery, violence and unexpected humour. The poems read like myths of the origins of the world, except that at the middle of them all is Crow, this anarchic, chaotic, ugly, violent figure, playing tricks on God and turning creation upside-down.

I was reminded of the Anansi figure in West Indian Folk Tales, himself of course of West African origin. I suspect Hughes drew on a lot of mythological sources in these poems, many of which I am blissfully unaware of, but it didn't seem to matter - even in the poems where I wasn't sure what he was driving at, I was pleased by the rhythm of the language, somehow different in each poem but forming a coherent whole.

There's a lot more you could say about these poems - you could probably do a whole English Literature course on them - but I don't want to go that deep. I'm happy for now just to have discovered that rare thing for me, poetry that I can truly enjoy. I'll keep this on my shelf and probably re-read from time to time, if only to try to understand why this worked for me and so much other poetry doesn't. ( )
2 vote AndrewBlackman | Nov 3, 2010 |
Where is my previous review?: ...The gist of it was this: Crow is one of the best books of poetry published in the last 50 years...
  iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
Entertaining and interesting, this collection ranges from melancholy observations to dark questions and theories, based on and around the character of Crow Hughes used for this project. As a collection, the poems hold together an odd panorama of questions and sentiments (in many cases anger or distrust) that question life, religion, and philosophy. It's a dark book, but the poems are worthwhile, with quite a few being ones that I'll come back to many times. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jun 2, 2009 |
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In Memory of Assia and Shura
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Black was the without eye / Black the within tongue / Black was the heart / Black the liver, black the lungs / Unable to suck in the light / Black the blood in its loud tunnel / Black the bowels packed in furnace / Black too the muscles / Striving to pull out into the light / Black the nerves, black the brain / With its tombed visions / Black also the soul, the huge stammer / Of the cry that, swelling, could not / Pronounce its sun.
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