Below, you’ll find the poem and part of an analysis of the poem ‘Hawk Roosting’ by Ted Hughes.
Includes a part of the poem, a breakdown of the stanzas, and an insight into the speaker + voice of the poem. This is only a quick overview to help you get to grips with the poem; you can access a full in-depth breakdown of the poem below.
‘I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream.
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.’
Full poem unable to be reproduced due to copyright restrictions
- Roosting – sleeping or resting on a branch, perch or roost
- Buoyancy – an upward force exerted on a body by a fluid; display fast recovery from discouragement: resilience
- Inaction – idleness
- Convenience – when something is suitable and beneficial
- Falsifying – to alter facts with the aim of deceiving or misleading; to disapprove a theory or statement
- Sophistry – a clever but false argument
- Allotment – give out a share or portion
I sit at the height of forests, with my eyes shut. Utterly still, no deceiving dream, between my rounded head and curved feet: or in sleep I practice perfectly hunting prey for meals.
The benefits of high trees! The bounciness of the air and the beams from the sun support my quest and mission: And the earth pays respect to me by turning its face upwards to face mine.
My limbs are held upon the rough bark of the free. It took the entire Universe to form my feet and feathers. My foot is now the keeper of all of Creation,
or soar high, and turn the world round slowly at my will – I eat what I desire, for all is mine. There is no deceit in me, my habits are sophisticated and draw attention –
Death obeys my commands and kills many living things. My fight plan affects the health of mortals. No school of thought has ever defined who I am.
The sun is setting. Nothing has changed since I began. My eye has not allowed anything to change. I will ensure that things remain as they are.
Hughes employs the technique of personification throughout this poem, to bring his speaker to life. The speaker is a figure whose name is simply ‘Hawk’, he is a predatory bird of the hawk species. His speech inspires the feeling that we are all one with the universe and nature; Hawk removes the sense of separation from other creatures that people feel as he adopts a godlike persona, fully in control of the life, death and behaviour of the world that he surveys. He confesses that like us, he has the same needs for dominance, control, and achievement – and he is driven by similar urges, such as the need to eat or sleep. Hawk’s tone effectively conveys the major themes of the poem: violence, power, and conquest.
The monologue of forceful words portrays the real character of a hawk well. The poet suggests that even in the privacy of its thoughts, its predatory instincts rule. The hawk cares little about its victims: it gives the impression that he brutally is a natural cycle, and itself plays the primary role in the making this cycle, and itself plays the primary role in making this cycle unfold. Hawk seems ignorant of the fact that owls may devour them in the dead of the night, or that it is eagles who truly rule the sky – in this poem, he reigns supreme.
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