Read Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow by Ted Hughes Free Online
Book Title: Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow|
The author of the book: Ted Hughes
Edition: Faber Faber
The size of the: 436 KB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: September 3rd 2001
ISBN 13: 9780571099153
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 1406 times
Reader ratings: 5.3
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Suicide of Ted Hughes’s wife Sylvia Plath, 1963
Suicide of Ted Hughes’ current partner Assia Wevill, 1969
Publication of Crow, 1970
This is the context for the screeching brutality, ugliness and relentless howling nastiness of Crow and its picture of humanity as the scraping of nails on the blackboard of creation and consciousness as worse than anthrax.
Crow is really severe stuff.
Crow is horror poetry.
When Crow cried his mother’s ear
Scorched to a stump.
In the poems, Crow is many things – sometimes he appears to be Hughes himself; sometimes the well known trickster, Loki or someone similar, cavorting, disgusted by everything, meddling, cocking things up, himself a scrawny reeking speck of gristle and greasy black feathers with a vast appetite and completely unkillable; and sometimes he’s a kind of reverse Christ (with black feathers).
I love Ted Hughes’ animal poetry, which includes plenty of carnage but taken as a whole is a tremendous celebration, the nature channel fused with Thomas Traherne. But Crow has no compassion, no pity. He's done with that.
Crow’s Account of the Battle
The cartridges were banging off, as planned,
The fingers were keeping things going
According to excitement and orders.
The unhurt eyes were full of deadliness.
The bullets pursued their courses
Through clods of stone, earth, and skin,
Through intestines pocket-books, brains, hair, teeth
According to Universal laws
And mouths cried "Mamma"
From sudden traps of calculus,
Theorems wrenched men in two,
Shock-severed eyes watched blood
Squandering as from a drain-pipe
Into the blanks between the stars.
Faces slammed down into clay
As for the making of a life-mask
Knew that even on the sun's surface
They could not be learning more or more to the point
Reality was giving it's lesson,
Its mishmash of scripture and physics,
With here, brains in hands, for example,
And there, legs in a treetop.
There was no escape except into death.
And still it went on--it outlasted
Many prayers, many a proved watch
Many bodies in excellent trim,
Till the explosives ran out
And sheer weariness supervened
And what was left looked round at what was left.
Crow cannot die, his suffering which is only briefly drowned out by his laughter can’t die and it seems has no purpose. There’s no comfort to be had.
Some individual poems are quite incomprehensible (Crowego, Robin’s Song, Crow’s Undersong – sometimes the language is pushed too far and melts down into surrealism) but it all fits into this terrifying epic bleak panorama, so I don’t get the unpleasant complete door-slamming incomprehensibility from Crow, even at its most difficult, that I did from Wallace Stevens, and had to give him the elbow, beautiful language and blue guitars and all. Wallace Stevens was too clever for me, like Shoenberg or something. Ted Hughes is more like Captain Beefheart. This is not to compare Stevens and Hughes, because why should you, it’s just that I read both recently.
But I could fly with this disgusting bird, because after another day watching the news or another brilliantly eviscerating movie about just how fucked things actually are, in the poor parts, in the rich parts, and in the soft parts between, Crow is the appropriate response, Crow is what I wish to say. Sometimes you read a book or hear a song and you think: this is mine. It might not be very nice but your blood recognises it immediately : this is mine.
Crow straggled, limply bedraggled his remnant.
He was his own leftover, the spat-out scrag
He was what his brain could make nothing of.
Sometimes weeping, sometimes cawing with laughter, sometimes both, Crow flaps through all our skies.
"Well," said Crow, "What first?"
God, exhausted with Creation, snored.
"Which way?" said Crow, "Which way first?"
God's shoulder was the mountain on which Crow sat.
"Come," said Crow, "Let's discuss the situation."
God lay, agape, a great carcass.
Crow tore off a mouthful and swallowed.
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Read information about the authorEdward James Hughes was an English poet and children's writer, known as Ted Hughes. His most characteristic verse is without sentimentality, emphasizing the cunning and savagery of animal life in harsh, sometimes disjunctive lines.
The dialect of Hughes's native West Riding area of Yorkshire set the tone of his verse. At Pembroke College, Cambridge, he found folklore and anthropology of particular interest, a concern that was reflected in a number of his poems. In 1956 he married the American poet Frieda Hughes and the brother of Gerald Hughes.
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