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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 10 August 2014
These poems are unique in the history of English literature and indeed, within the body of work of one of Britain's finest poets.

They are tough, dark and unrelenting in their perspective but also curiously addictive.

I have now read this slim volume several times. I cannot say I fully understand them but you are ineluctably drawn into the dark mind-set of this strange, at times terrifying being that is 'Crow'.

This is poetry bat its best.
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on 12 March 2002
To be honest - I don't know what to say. I am utterly speechless. If I could give six stars I would. These poems are among the best I have ever read in my life - and I have read quite a lot of poetry. Apparently Ted Hughes was trying to make language ugly: And that is the one thing he didn't succeed in. It is beautiful, full of vivid images and emotions. Just as the anti-hero doesn't appear evil but instead very human indeed. I can heartily recommend this book!
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on 4 July 2000
This is definitely the book that divides most Hughes readers. For some it's the peak of his achievement in the mythopoeic vein - and the range of cultural reference is amazing. Hughes aplcalyptic mishmash of 'scripture and physics' plunders from theology, anthropology, science, myth and popular culture with both verve and intelligence. For others, however, the writing is criticised as sloppy, hit and miss - and certainly, if you were brought up to appreciate the 'finished', constructed poems of the 'practical criticism' era, then the shock to sensibility must've been immense.
A lot is still said about the 'blood and guts' Hughes, and 'Crow' might well be one of the more 'violent' of his books. But even here there are poems of real tenderness and concentrated awareness. If you don't believe me, check out 'Little Blood' and especially the beautiful, 'Undersong'. 'Crow' might well boil down to a book essentially about the struggle to survive in a destructive universe, but it is also haunted and undercut by possibilities that are more vulnerable, fecund and creative. This has always been the side of Hughes that prevents him from lapsing entirely into nihilism, and even in this, perhaps his darkest book, there is something to scavenge from the rubble.
Wherever you stand, though, there's nothing like it anywhere else in British poetry.
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on 24 November 2001
This is definitely the best collection of poetry I have read for a long time!! It tells the story of the creation of the world. The scary and funny at the same time anti-hero Crow is not really the devil but simply always the opposite. Deeply philosophic, with a sense of humor and in beautiful, beautiful words.
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on 3 November 2010
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.
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on 4 March 2010
This is the first book of Ted Hughes poetry I have read having seen it referred to in a book about British Birds in Haiku. Wasn't sure what to expect but what I got was a wonderful and much needed slap in the face.
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on 20 March 2011
Crow is a trickster figure from myth. Drawing on his vast knowledge of the world's mythologies, Hughes creates a great survivor myth for the post-holocaust world. Begun in the trauma after Sylvia Plath's suicide, the cycle of poems were abandoned after the deaths of Assia and Shura. Hughes was never able to complete the myth. But that seems to be part of the significance of the work: it's very incompleteness. This is one of the key texts of the twentieth century.
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on 24 November 2001
This is definitely the best collection of poetry I have read for a long time!! It tells the story of the creation of the world. The scary and funny at the same time anti-hero Crow is not really the devil but simply always the opposite. Deeply philosophic, with a sense of humor and in beautiful, beautiful words.
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on 20 December 2013
It speaks volumes that there are only '5 star' reviews here. A wonderful book. Hughes should be considered as the pre-eminent English poet of the latter half of the 20th century.
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on 17 January 2013
One of the truly great poets of the twentieth century at the top of his form. His use of language is masterful.
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