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

by Ted Hughes

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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 |
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 |
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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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