Crow is black as "the wet otter's head"; Crow is "trembling featherless elbows in the nest's filth"; Crow eats, plays, kills, flies to the sun, recites theology, tests mythology, falls in love. In Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow
, Ted Hughes tales a look at life from a crow's-eye view and finds it nasty and brutish. The vivid, harsh language matches the tenor of Crow's days. "When the eagle soared clear through a dawn distilling of emerald
Crow spraddled head-down in the beach-garbage, guzzling a dropped ice-cream"; "Crow thought of a wage--And it choked him, it was cut unspoiled from his dead stomach."
Former laureate Hughes dedicated this volume (first published in 1972) to the memory of Shura and Assia, his daughter and ex-lover who committed suicide, as had Hughes' wife, the poet Sylvia Plath, and it's hard to read these poems without remembering the violence of Hughes' own experience. Women are predators and victims and they die bloody deaths. In "Crow's Account of St. George" a wife and children are brutally murdered; in "Lovesong" a lover's laughs are "an assassin's attempts". Most interesting are the poems that rewrite myth--God trying to teach Crow love, Crow flying into the sun, Crow looking for language to name his world. Crow is jarringly familiar as Adam, Icarus, Oedipus and the Devil all at once in this bleak and resonant collection. - -Tamsin Todd
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Crow by Ted Hughes is a work of mythological power from one of the most important English poets of the twentieth century.
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