“Hawk Roosting” by Ted Hughes Lin Yupeng
I. Introduction to Ted Hughes • II. Introduction to the Poem “Hawk Roosting” • III. Reading of the Poem IV. Analysis of the Poem “Hawk Roosting”
I. Introduction to Ted Hughes(1) • Ted Hughes(1930-1998) :one of the important English poets in the 20th century • dominant poet in 1960s • Innovator who had his own poetic voice and poetic technique of animal symbolism • deeply involved in the observation of the world of creatures
I. Introduction to Ted Hughes(2) • Hughes’s poetry : strong feelings and urgent ,brilliant images • His studies of nature and anthropology gave him a view of man as being both opposed by the primitive forces of nature and also as containing those same forces withn himself. • He was concerned with strong and sometimes violent forces of nature, but he wrote with great powers of imagination as if from inside the birds and animals.
Introduction to Ted Hughes(3) • His poetry : unsentimental, written in rough, harsh, sometimes disjointed lines, emphasizing the cunning and savagery of animal life. • When writing about people he also stressed the instinctive, animal side of human nature rather than the intellectual .However, his insight and the structure of his poems show his keen intellect.
Introduction to Hughes(4) • an important infuence on a group of younger poets in the 1960s , known as “The Tribe of Ted”. • In 1985 appointed Poet Laureate. • Hughes married Sylvia Plath(1932-1963),a famous Amerian poet, in 1956 and they had two children. Later they separated, which, people suggested ,may have contributed to the suicide of Plath in 1963.
II. Introduction to the Poem “Hawk Roosting”(1) • This is a famous poem of the poet’s and a very special one in that the image of the bird was quite new and striking in the history of English poetry.Different people may have different interpretations of the hawk in the poem. There have been quite controversial views as to the meanings of the poem and the image of the hawk.
Introduction to the Poem(2) • The whole poem is a monologue of ,or psychology about, the hawk. The bird, perched on the top of the trees, inspects the land below him and has some arrogant ideas of himself, thinking that he holds Creation in his feet and all is there for him to kill and eat, and that he does not need arguments to assert his right and he is going to keep things like this for ever.
III. Reading of the Poem • 1.Some questions: • 1) What is the bird’s personality? • 2) Is this a matter-of-fact description of the hawk and his psychology or does it have symbolic or allegorical meanings? • 3) What are characteristics of Hughes’ poetry?
2. Understanding of some of the words(1) • inaction, without any action, in a static state • falsifying,make false so as to deceive; represent falsely • hooked,bent like a hook • rehearse, practise speech, performance etc. before giving it in public • buoyancy,power to float in a fluid
2. Understanding of some of the words(2) • Creation, the original bringing into existence of the universe by God; the world, the universe; things created • sophistry, false argument; clever, seemingly sensible, but false reasoning • manners,way of living, way of behaving concerning other people • allotment,assigning or giving out portions • No arguments assert my right, assert, state or declare strongly positively
IV. Analysis of the Poem “Hawk Roosting” • 1. Image/Character of the hawk • 2. Symbolism of the hawk • 3. Sound image of the hawk • 4. Title and the character of the hawk • 5.Rough poetry of Hughes • 6.Irony in the hawk • 7. Change of the image of the hawk in literary tradition (Compare this poem with other two poems about the hawk or the eagle,predatory birds)
1.Image/Character of the hawk • proud, vain , dominant, arrogant, self-centred, egotistic, megalomaniac • powerful , violent, cruel, brutal, cold-blooded, blood-thirsty • The hawk lives according to the rules of its own morality; hawk is sufficient unto itself and at one with its environment
2. Symbolism/Implication of the hawk • Symbol of humanity,like a dictator or Hitler; • Symbol of violent force of nature (or nature itself) • Nature now is no longer the nature in Wordsworth’ poetry ( organic , whole , in harmony with man) • Nature now is disjointed and violent because man has done violence to nature and modern society and industry have destroyed the harmony between man and nature( anti-Romantic view). • Hughes : it is not violence, it is force.
3. Sound image of the hawk (1) • The title gives the hint for the leading/dominant sounds of the hawk: the dominant consonant is [h] in the word Hawk and the dominant vowel sound is [u] or the similar one [u:] in the word Roosting.
Sound image of the hawk (2) • Throughout the poem there are altogether eight words which have [h]sound: hooked, head, hooked, rehearse, high, hold, heads, and Hawk in the title.(Besides there are another three in the last stanza: behind, has, has).
3. Sound image of the hawk (3) • There are also eight words which contain the dominant vowel sound [u] or the similar one [u:]: woods,hooked hooked, took, foot, foot, Through and also Roosting in the title.
Sound image of the hawk (4) • Because the title contains these two sounds and because the words which contain these sounds are key words about the bird’s characteristics and its action, therefore these two sounds can be regarded as sound image of the hawk.
Sound image of the hawk (5) • [h]is associated with the word hard, thus the sound[h] suggests hardness of the rock and firmness of the bird’s posture and hard-heartedness. • According to Georffrey Leech certain consonants can be regarded as hard ones and some can be regarded as soft ones.
4. The title and the character of the hawk • Hawk Roosting(not Roosting Hawk, the former emphasizes action whereas the latter emphasized the Hawk itself) • which suggests action in inaction,movement in stability,motion in motionlessness, that even if the hawk seems to be doing nothing , even if in its sleep, it is indulged in killing and in violence
5. Rough poetry of Hughes • 1) irregular lines:long and short • 2)ca’cophony: words combining consonant sounds that dont permit an easy flow of pronunciation, but rather produce sharpness or harshness • 3) pauses within the lines
6. Irony in the poem • dramatic irony or situational irony • The hawk thinks that he has power to keep the world like this forever, but we know that it is not true.
7.Image of the hawk viewed in literary tradition • 1) Compare this poem with other two poems about hawks or eagles ,predatory birds.
The EagleBy Alfred, Lord Tennyson • He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ringed with the azure world, he stands. • The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls.
The eagle in this poem • symbol of outstanding personality of humanity: uniqueness, superiority, • courage, strength, heroism, nobility
From “Hurt Hawk” by Robinson Jeffers(1887-1962) • The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder, • The wing trails like a banner in defeat, • No more to use the sky forever but live with famine • And pain a few days: cat nor coyote • Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons. • He stands under the oak-bush and waits • The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom • And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.
The hawk in this poem by Jeffers • a kind of fallen hero, lover of freedom, symbol of courage, like a martyr in suffering
Three poems compared • 1.The Eagle • symbol of outstanding personality , superiority, courage, strength, heroism, nobility • 2.Hurt Hawks • fallen hero, lover of freedom, symbol of courage, a martyr • 3.Hawk Roosting • Violence, Hiltler, megalomaniac, blood-thirsty
2) Change of the hawk image(1) • the change/development of the hawk image in literary history suggests the change from the Romantic view of nature to the modern view of nature(eagle, symbol of nature, is personified as containing some good qualities) , from traditional values to the modern views.
2) Change of the hawk image(2) • This also shows that we get the meaning not just from one poem, but from the context of whole literary tradition. The meaning of one poem can be enriched by other poems or other works of literature. This has something to do with tradition and intertexuality:
3) Literary tradition • No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism . • T.S.Eliot
4) Intertexuality • intertexuality: a term coined by Julia Kristeva to designate the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts.These intertextual relationships include anagram, allusion, adaptation, translation, parody, pastiche, imitation and other kinds of transformation.
4) Intertextuality • The idea of intertextuality emphasizes the relationship between one text and another, the tie of all texts, and the importance of the texts themselves rather than the external world.