31 March, 2008

The Hawk In The Rain

As promised, I've learnt a poem by Ted Hughes this week:

I drown in the drumming ploughland, I drag up
Heel after heel from the swallowing of the earth's mouth,
From clay that clutches my each step to the ankle
With the habit of the dogged grave, but the hawk

Effortlessly at height hangs his still eye.
His wings hold all creation in a weightless quiet,
Steady as a hallucination in the streaming air.
While banging wind kills these stubborn hedges,

Thumbs my eyes, throws my breath, tackles my heart,
And rain hacks my head to the bone, the hawk hangs,
The diamond point of will that polestars
The sea drowner's endurance: And I,

Bloodily grabbed dazed last-moment-counting
Morsel in the earth's mouth, strain to the master-
Fulcrum of violence where the hawk hangs still.
That maybe in his own time meets the weather

Coming the wrong way, suffers the air, hurled upside-down,
Fall from his eye, the ponderous shires crash on him,
The horizon trap him; the round angelic eye
Smashed, mix his heart's blood with the mire of the land.
Ted Hughes

Overall, I've really enjoyed reading Hughes' poems. "Pike" and "The Shot" also became favourites. I'll certainly be seeking out more of his work.

Also, happily, it didn't prove too hard to remember these 20 lines. I had no idea how easy/tricky it would be, but I typed this out from memory, needing to correct only a couple of bits of punctuation.

This week I'll be learning a bit of Shakespeare; how could I take interest in poetry without having a look at the classics?


gr82008 said...

I am currently studying this poem, and am writing about the key themes as a homework. It's an interesting poem.

MC NT said...

you should give this poem a thoro analysis, I could really use, I don't really understand it

Anonymous said...

Hi. Came across your site looking for the Ted Hughes poem "The man seeking experience enquires his way of a drop of water." I don't have the book right now but really want to get my hands on this poem. Can you help? :)

Santoy said...

I am trying to help Gr 12 students and live in Namibia. You know where I can get hold of any discussions or review.

lucius, U.K. said...

Just a niggle - I think it's great that you typed up the poem from memory but just wish you'd typed it up accurately. I say this because the beginning of line 18, according to the Faber Edition of the collection, Hawk in the Rain, ought to read 'fall', not 'falls'. This is important because the final five lines of the poem don't make sense with 'falls' but they do with 'fall'. Ask yourself, for example, what does the hawk do 'in his own time'? He first 'meets the weather coming the wrong way', he then 'suffers [both endures and allows] the air [to] fall from his eye, the ponderous shires [to] crash on him, the horizon [to] trap him...[to] mix his heart's blood with the mire of the land.' Clumsy, I know, but Hughes's way of expressing himself is rarely anything but clumsy and this reading does at least avoid the hawk, the subject of the sentence, having to fall from his own eye which would simply be nonsense.

unfire said...

Lucius, thanks for the comment, I have edited the line. My only defence is that 3 years ago I was basically unable to read poetry... not that I'm any expert now, mind. I made the mistake the first time I transcribed it from my printed copy and it stuck. Your reading is much better than mine was when I typed this, certainly.

Other commenters, thanks for dropping by. This blog is mostly inactive now and honestly there's plenty of stuff I half-regret putting up here as I've moved on to other things. Sorry I didn't/can't help more.