May 11, 2012

Poetry Friday--Ted Hughes

I have a copy of The Cat and the Cuckoo poems by Ted Hughes. The jacket copy says,
By turns whimsical, lyrical, and robust, always acutely observed, and often surprising, the poems in The Cat and the Cuckoo will delight children curious about animals and alert then to the excitement and pleasure to be had from capturing the world in words.
I understand the pleasure in words, Hughes has a knack for playing with his words, for example, this from "Otter,"
Then I jut up my mutt,
All spikey with wet.
My moustaches bristle
As I mutter, or whistle:
"Now what's the matter?"
However, I wonder about the appeal to kids of a poem such as "Crow," and what they would gain from its reading?

Thrice, thrice, thrice, the coal-bright Crow
Baarks-aarks-aarks, like a match being struck
To look for trouble.

               "Hear ye the Preacher:
               Nature to Nature
               Returns each creature."

      The Crow lifts a claw--
      A crucifix
      Of burnt matchsticks.

               "I am the Priest.
               For my daily bread
               I nurse the dead."

      The monkish Crow
      Ruffles his cloak
      Like a burnt bible.

               "At my humble feast
               I am happy to drink
               Whatever you think."

      Then the Crow
      Laughs through his hacker
      And grows blacker.

Not exactly flattering to the Crow! I happen to like crows, but not Ted Hughes' crows, which strike me as downright menacing!

I did a Google search on the poem and lo and behold, crows appear to have played an important part in Hughes' creative output. Click here to learn more.

Head over to Irene Latham's Live Your Poem... for this week's Round-Up of delightful poetry links.


  1. Fascinating stuff. (I read the link.) I also can't quite imagine handing this Crow poem to children, intriguing as it is. Yesterday in the car I listened to Basil Rathbone's recording of an excerpt of Poe's "The Raven" from POETRY SPEAKS TO CHILDREN.

  2. I agree with you and Robyn... I can't imagine my kids would relate to the imagery of this poem.

  3. Thanks, for your comments. Jacket copy writers don't have a clue about kids if they think "Crow" has kid appeal!

  4. It appears that Blogger is not allowing some readers to post comments. Here's what Mary Lee would have commented if Blogger had been cooperative:

    Menacing, indeed! This poem might not be so great for kids, but it sure does what I love for poems to do -- makes me look at the world (crows) in new ways!!

    Amen to to that, Mary Lee!