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Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow by…
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Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (1970)

by Ted Hughes

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
A powerful work in which every poem reads like a howl of anguish from the earth's very bowels of despair, Crow is a bloody, brutal and beautiful collection. Published in 1970, six years after Hughes' first wife, Sylvia Plath, committed suicide, and one year after his second wife, Assia Wevill, also committed suicide (and killed their four-year old daughter at the same time), the book is shot through with imagery of death, blood, destruction, foulness and blackness. The sequence features the character of Crow, a quasi-mythological beast who stands as both a pseudo-deity and also a domesticated, everyday figure (in a way reminding me of Geryon from Anne Carson's re-telling of the Hercules myth, Autobiography of Red). The unspeakable tragedy in Hughes' life bears fruit in the imagery he conjures here, so gory and despairing it is almost comic.

In "A Kill", Crow is "nailed down by his own ribs"; in "Crow and Mama" we learn that "When Crow cried his mother's ear / scorched to a stump". In "Crow Blacker Than Ever" we find him "nailing Heaven and Earth together" but "the agony did not diminish." It goes on. Man is "a walking abbatoir"; a dog is a "bulging filterbag"; Man's soul is given to him by Crow from "the Worm, God's only son", while in "A Bedtime Story" (perhaps my favourite poem from this collection), the weary conclusion is that "Creation had failed again." In Hughes' alternative creation myth, humans are destructive, filthy parasites; God sleeps while Crow laughs, or cries, or chews the flesh of the Creator. And yet from time to time these large-scale, mythical images will be interrupted by (no less horrifying) imagery from human life: in "Crow's Account of Saint George", he "runs dumb-faced from the house / Where his wife and children lie in their blood." The suggestion, ultimately, is that while there are aspects of the human and the frail within even the most potent myths, there are too elements of the mythological in our everyday lives.

In Crow, the elemental power of Hughes' poetry finds its darkest vision.

Grown so wise grown so terrible
Sucking death's mouldy tits.
( )
  haarpsichord | Nov 5, 2018 |
This has been in my library since its publication. Whatever one thinks of Hughes as a human being, he was one hell of a poet, and this collection, I believe, is one of his best. ( )
  nmele | Sep 7, 2017 |
What began as poems to accompany Leonard Baskin's illustrations of crows, Ted Hughes' collection CROW explores ideas of Christianity, mythology, and humanity. When put together, the poems form a kind of alternate "creation" story as told through the observation (and occasional interference) of Crow. It is mythical and tangible, masculine and feminine, tender and violent. ( )
  BooksForYears | Jul 11, 2016 |
Pondering... but initial thoughts are that Ted Hughes was angry with God when he wrote these. Some of the poems are not just dark but disturbing; others I didn't get and some I liked so it is hard to give an overall rating. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 9, 2016 |
I actually struggled through quite a bit of this. The poetry itself is amazing, passionate and beautifully metaphoric and also accessible, so I read most of it even though I struggled because it's so dark, violent, and raw. I just can't deal with so much ugly content. But I will keep looking for more by Hughes, and I do recommend it to people less squeamish than I (which is just about everybody). ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
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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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