Crow
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Crow

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  1,297 ratings  ·  97 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.
Paperback, 84 pages
Published June 28th 1971 by Harper & Row (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
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
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
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...
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

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
Lauren
Mar 29, 2014 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: all humans (and crows)


The original Crow drawings by Leonard Baskin.


I find it difficult to talk about poetry. It’s a tricky genre, but I do love it—when it’s done 'right'. And here it is. Emily Dickinson wrote: ‘If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?’ That’s Crow. I’m reading it and I am held. It’s like Ted Hughes grabbed...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
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.
Alan
Feb 07, 2014 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition 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
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
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
James
These must be my favorite of Hughes' poems. Myth-making at its best, Hughes creates a creation myth that can encompass the whole sadness of the earth, a sadness that includes the extreme joy and general devastation we've created for ourselves. Crow must be some archetype for the soul, whatever it is, but also the human, the child, God, the godhead. Crow is before God, but after; before man and woman, but after; before earth, and even sky, but dependent on them, and after. He is born of the screa...more
Wayne
Jul 17, 2009 Wayne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone wanting to try a new type of speed
Recommended to Wayne by: a teaching colleague
Shelves: poetry, re-reads
I am dying to reread this book.
A fellow teacher loaned it to me several years ago and I have never forgotten the experience of these dark, cruel, violent,bizarre,clever,funny, unexpected poems.I expected to be finally bored, wondering for just how long Hughes could sustain this persona, this line he had chosen to take...and he never let up, never disappointed. It just rolled on, poem after poem after poem.

I realise I have never quite recovered from it.
I want to test the waters again and just s...more
Oliver
Crow is a symbol of death in all it's unknowable and chaotic bleakness. Read this and you will never look at a crow in the same way again.
Cameron
Dark, visceral collection of poems by Hughes. Completely changed my opinion of a poet I'd known as Plath's less-talented former husband and the author of the regrettable Birthday Letters. Below is one of my favorite passages, from Two Legends:

Black is the wet otter's head, lifted.
Black is the rock, plunging in foam.
Black is the gall lying on the bed of the blood.

Black is the earth-globe, one inch under,
An egg of blackness
Where sun and moon alternate their weathers.

To hatch a crow, a black rainbo...more
Ade Couper
Ye Gods, Ted Hughes was brilliant....

"Crow" is a collection of Hughes' poems, unsurprisingly about Crow: a distinctly unpleasant individual, who does have a habit of arguing with God....

These poems are incredibly dark, but there are definite flashes of humour within.Hughes switches throughout from traditional poetic structure to free verse, which makes the story of the book flow in an interesting way. Crow comes across as a right misanthrope (a bit like the caricature images of Hughes himself, w...more
Chris S
My all time fav - the book that got me 'into' poetry while a teen. I realised that poetry wasn't all airy-fairy girlie stuff but can be dark, violent, sad, funny, spooky.... TH's masterpiece written under very dark circumstances. Crow's one of my fav literary characters too. No matter what man, other creatures and God Himself throws at Crow, he bounces back. A true survivor.

I managed to track down the old cassette recording that TH made. Playing this while reading the book makes the hairs on th...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
Gerardo
I have not read such a masterpiece. I am so glad my professors suggested me to read this books. The Crow blew my mind off. There is something so dark and appealing to the main character that once started reading it, I couldn't let it go out of my sight. I have watch a youtube video about this book and it is also really cool. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to any one willing to learn about creation and life on this earth. It is really cool that Hughes was reading Shakespeare( I believe King L...more
Dan
Hughes wrote Crow while experiencing depression following the suicide of Sylvia Plath, his wife. Crow is an anti-hero, and his experiences could be read as being set at the origin or at the end of the cosmos, or at no place or time. The poems attempt to represent brute nature and consciousness on the level of instinct; thus they are frequently dark and ugly.
Cheryl in CC NV
I actually struggled through quite a bit of this. The poetry itself is amazing, passionate and beautifully metaphoric and also accessible, so I read most of it even though I struggled because it's so dark, violent, and raw. I just can't deal with so much ugly content. But I will keep looking for more by Hughes, and I do recommend it to people less squeamish than I (which is just about everybody).
Christina
Sinfully decadent and disrespectful of the Divine. But, seriously, don't we all have the same underlying doubts and questions as Crow? Unlike Crow, we have the decorum not to show just how dark and ugly such doubts really are. So is Crow true to himself, thereby embodying the very truth he denies? Are we true to ourselves, thereby manifesting the depravity of man that Crow represents?
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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 Selected Poems 1957-1994 Letters of Ted Hughes

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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”
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