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Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow
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Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  1,556 ratings  ·  110 reviews
The hero of Ted Hughes's Crow is a creature of mythic proportions. Ferocious, bleak, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy, Crow's story is one of the literary landmarks of our time.
Hardcover, 84 pages
Published December 1st 1971 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1970)
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Paul
Timeline

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 – s
...more
James
Crow is a ferocious little myth-ball chucked at our prosaically slumped world. In each poem you hear the ball strike and echo against all the cells in the dungeon. Hughes uses simple language throughout and mixes eloquent harangue with blackened charges of despair. This is supremely beautiful, passionate, and raw poetry--which is to say: the best sort of poetry.
Xio
February 17th

A lamb could not get born. Ice wind
Out of a downpour dishclout sunrise. The mother
Lay on the muddied slope. Harried, she got up
And the blackish lump bobbed at her back-end
Under her tail. After some hard galloping,
Some manoeuvering, much flapping of the backward
Lump head of the lamb looking out,
I caught her with a rope. Laid her, head uphill
And examined the lamb. A blood-ball swollen
Tight in its black felt, its mouth gap
Squashed crooked, tongue stuck out, black-purple,
Strangled by it
...more
Benito
the finest cycle of poetry I've ever read - warm, meaty, harsh and cawing likes it's title suggests. Bullets wouldn't cut through this fleshy example of what one could do with verse, just don't forget to turn the gas off...
Paul Baran
May 20, 2007 Paul Baran rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: AK
In native American culture in particular, the Crow was seen as the eternal trickster, even a figure of malice in the forms of the Universe. In this pivitol collection, Hughes appropriates the Crow's mythic role and uses it as a mocking narrator to journey the horrors of the Twentieth Century, including the repressive events of Eastern Europe and the violent incursion of technology and post industrialisation into nature's den. There is a sadism in these poems, that initially arrests the reader, b ...more
Terence
Ted Hughes’ The Crow was a mixed bag for me. Some poems went right over my head no matter how many times I would read them. Others read like pretentious claptrap. But then there were a handful that I enjoyed reading, like “Crow Goes Hunting”:

Crow
Decided to try words.

He imagined some words for the job, a lovely pack –
Clear-eyed, resounding, well-trained,
With strong teeth.
You could not find a better bred lot.

He pointed out the hare and away went the words
Resounding.
Crow was Crow without fail, but
...more
Andrew
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
...more
Kasandra
Crow  From the life and songs of the crow by Ted Hughes

One of those "classics" I'd not yet gotten around to reading, this is an amazingly dark and intense book, full of surreal and haunting imagery, but not without wry humor. It contains real horror and real emotion, and is mostly spoken in the voice of "Crow", who feels like a cross between a dark/negative Holy Ghost and a primal energy of the death that resides in all life -- not God, but a god, one who's ultimately a reflection of all that is egotistical, ugly, unconscious, on the edge of sanity
...more
Rosa Jamali
The book has been dedicated to the memory of Assia Wevill and her child Shura. I think Assia Wevill was really a challenging dramatic figure we can't ignore. The book starts with a poem called "Two Legends" I suppose these two legends are the legends of Sylvia Plath and Assia Wevill. The second legend is much darker and more tragic. A woman who commits suicide seven years after Plath's death and kills her child not to leave a trace. I think she was charming and impressive who caused the loss of ...more
Jonathan
"The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw." - Jack Handy
Edward
Publisher's Note

--Two Legends
--Lineage
--Examination at the Womb-door
--A Kill
--Crow and Mama
--The Door
--A Childish Prank
--Crow's First Lesson
--Crow Alights
--That Moment
--Crow Hears Fate Knock on the Door
--Crow Tyrannosaurus
--Crow's Account of the Battle
--The Black Beast
--A Grin
--Crow Communes
--Crow's Account of St George
--A Disaster
--The Battle of Osfrontalis
--Crow's Theology
--Crow's Fall
--Crow and the Birds
--Criminal Ballad
--Crow on the Beach
--The Contender
--Oedipus Crow
--Crow's Vanity
--A Horrib
...more
SZ
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only member of the Crow Appreciation Society in my immediate circle of friends and colleagues. They just don’t get crows/corvids in general, most people don’t. So, (truncated in a spoiler for those who can’t be bothered to read) off the top of my head, five reasons why crows should finally get a little respect from you peasants:
(view spoiler)
...more
David
A Top Shelf review, originally published in The Monitor

Dark, Tragic Verse


Fifty years ago, poet Sylvia Plath killed herself by sealing the kitchen off from her two sleeping children, switching on the gas and sticking her head in the oven. She had separated from her husband, the poet Ted Hughes, seven months earlier when she learned he was having an affair. Hughes called her suicide “the end of [his] life,” but that darkness was compounded further when Assia Wevill, his lover, killed herself and t
...more
minnie
Everywhere there is desolation, pain and human despair, there is Crow perched, laughing, musing on all around him. An ancient force like some commentator on creation.These poems are harsh but also have black humour, and with each reading I found myself understanding them better.

Crow's Song Of Himself

When God hammered Crow
He made gold
When God roasted Crow in the sun
He made diamond
When God crushed Crow under weights
He made alcohol
When God tore Crow to pieces
He made money
When God blew Crow up
He mad
...more
Simon
Crow is a hallucinatory combination of Native American myths, ancient Greek fables, Old and New Testament stories, and Hughes' animal imagery. The collection is loosely centered on the figure of Crow, but the breath of styles and themes is very wide. To me, the figure of Crow seemed a sort of trickster/scavenger personification of poetry itself, tearing apart and refashioning the world in black ink. Anyway, I enjoyed this, but maybe not as much as some of Hughes' other volumes, particularly Hawk ...more
Ming
Here Hughes proudly owns up to the strong forceful rhetorical quality that pervaded his earlier poems, and decides to create a new mythology. This lends him several advantages. One, he has found a form that is perfectly suited to his impulse for metaphorical gymnastics. Two, he's acquitted of having to write poems which are personal/emotional/precise - his poems need only be buoyed by a fable-like quality (which is not difficult to create or sustain) because that's what suits the premise of this ...more
Alan
A powerful work in which every poem reads like a howl of anguish from the earth's very bowels of despair, Crow is a bloody, brutal and beautiful collection. Published in 1970, six years after Hughes' first wife, Sylvia Plath, committed suicide, and one year after his second wife, Assia Wevill, also committed suicide (and killed their four-year old daughter at the same time), the book is shot through with imagery of death, blood, destruction, foulness and blackness. The sequence features the char ...more
Jamie
What a horrible lil' dreamscape. Seriously, this book SCAWED me!!! (I might get in trouble for saying this, but I also think it's an incredibly interesting bedfellow with Plath's Ariel - which gets read too often as a diary, but I think is, like Crow, a kind of apocalyptic terror dream invoking origin stories, etc.) Anyway, definitely my favorite Hughes so far.
Angela
Bleak wordplay.

"I will measure it all and own it all
And I will be inside it
As inside my own laughter"

"weeping he walked and stabbed"

"He knew he was the wrong listener unwanted
To understand or help
His utmost gaping of brain in his tiny skull
Was just enough to wonder, about the sea
what could be hurting so much?"

"he shuddered out of himself he got so naked"

"he laughed himself to the center of himself"

"we are here, we are here
He is the long waiting for something
to use him for some everything"

centipe
...more
Rich Law
I recently read Sylvia Plath's "Ariel", a collection written in the months before her suicide. If Ariel is all about the individual without hope, then "Crow" represents the hopelessness of humanity.

This is poetry like brutalist architecture: it's ugly, dark, and stripped to the bone. Birth is death, screams are laughter, and it's all sinews and guts. Critics have often commented that there is a dark humour on display here, but I didn't find anything to make chuckle. "Crow" is poetry for the apoc
...more
Alan
Feb 07, 2014 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hyenas and elephants
Recommended to Alan by: Lesley S.
The poems in Ted Hughes' Crow are nothing less than creation stories from a previously unknown mythology. Though it's possible to see parallels with Native American or perhaps African folk tales, Ted Hughes is British (or, rather, was—he died in 1998), and he filtered his creations through the island's unique lens.

These are violent myths too, full of dark blood and angry thunder. And they're incomplete, only two-thirds of the work as planned; Cave Birds was published in 1975 to complete the sequ
...more
Chris
Ted Hughes, author of The Iron Man (later to changed to “The Iron Giant”), has easily become one of my favorite poets of all time. He takes such a close, hard look at life, and speaks so very honestly and bravely. He does exactly what a poet ought to be doing: speaking passionately, imaginatively, complexly, uniquely, and relatably about life. He didn't relish being misunderstood and passed over by the masses, as some poets do. I can keep up with much of it, but not so easily that I get bored.

C
...more
Parrish Lantern
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
...more
Jaimie
Ted Hughes combines primal human storytelling, cultural myths, and violence to create some of the most startling poetry that I've ever read. His themes of deception, fear, blood, and physical love (not to be confused with emotional love) touch the centre of human existence, giving the reader a profound sense of unease combined with familiarity.

Crow imagery dominates the collection, drawing motifs from Isles and Native American mythology, and Hughes proves his deep understanding of this dichotom
...more
Scott Bartlett
Crow is my favourite collection of poem. It influenced the novel I'm finishing now pretty heavily.

Most of the poems in Crow feature the central character, Crow. Crows are both predators and scavengers–they will eat anything. Crows are very intelligent. Some crows make tools from stiff leaves and grass, which they use to get more food.

Crows are black. The word black appears a lot in Crow. The first poem in the collection, “Two Legends”, calls Crow a “black rainbow.”

For me, Crow came to represent
...more
Leonard
Crow again ..... and again. This is probably the sixth to tenth time I've read this collection of poems which is one of the most original and impressive ever written. I remember how moved I was the first time I read it. It opened up poetry for me to new possiblities that I had not imagined before, and it still has a similar impact after reading it several times before. This is one of a handful of books that I regularly re-read. Another is "The Book of Questions" by Pablo Neruda which with "Crow" ...more
Cait
Liked the poems 'Examination at the Womb-door', 'Crow's Account of the Battle', 'Conjuring in Heaven', 'Dawn's Rose', 'Apple Tragedy' and 'Crow Goes Hunting' (which reminded me of the fight between the witch and wizard in The Sword and the Stone.

The imagery was very strong, only took a few words to build up a vivid mental picture.

It was quite dark and gory - but made me think about it long after I'd finished.

Liked that the poems kind of linked together.
Mary
I really enjoyed reading this collection of poems. Full of dark humour and grotesque. Though Hughes seems a little bit obsessed about deconstructing and retelling the biblical myth of origin, it is a very contemporary collection. It touches upon "heavy" topics like war and death but also has this mocking quality which makes it digestible and enjoyable. The character of a crow is like a Fool of our times :)
Laura Neu
"Then heaven and earth creaked at the joint
Which became gangrenous and stank--
A horror beyond redemption."
Vicious, ferocious, intense, and yet so beautiful and controlled. The power of nature, jarring approaches to Christian lore, unsettlingly powerful perceptions, and raw humanity, all wrapped up in one character: Crow.
Ctgt
I have been trying to expand my reading into poetry and short story collections. Here's the problem with collections, I generally like some and loath others within the same book so my enjoyment is watered down. This collection was a perfect example of that problem. It starts off strong, Two Legends, A Kill, Crow and Mama are fantastic. Very few of the poems in the middle of the collection moved me at all. Then things really picked up at the end, Crow Blacker Than Ever, Crow's Song of Himself and ...more
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996
Edward 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
...more
More about Ted Hughes...
Birthday Letters The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights Collected Poems Letters of Ted Hughes The Hawk in the Rain

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“In the beginning was Scream
Who begat Blood
Who begat Eye
Who begat Fear
Who begat Wing
Who begat Bone
Who begat Granite
Who begat Violet
Who begat Guitar
Who begat Sweat
Who begat Adam
Who begat Mary
Who begat God
Who begat Nothing
Who begat Never
Never Never Never

Who begat Crow

Screaming for Blood
Grubs, crusts
Anything

Trembling featherless elbows in the nest's filth”
4 likes
“Black was the without eye
Black the within tongue
Black was the heart
Black the liver, black the lungs
Unable to suck in 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.”
1 likes
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