Wednesday 27 July 2011

Ted Hughes' Poems

The Hawk In The Rain

I drown in the drumming ploughland, I drag up
Heel after heel from the swallowing of the earth's mouth,
From clay that clutches my each step to the ankle
With the habit of the dogged grave, but the hawk

Effortlessly at height hangs his still eye.
His wings hold all creation in a weightless quiet,
Steady as a hallucination in the streaming air.
While banging wind kills these stubborn hedges,

Thumbs my eyes, throws my breath, tackles my heart,
And rain hacks my head to the bone, the hawk hangs,
The diamond point of will that polestars
The sea drowner's endurance: And I,

Bloodily grabbed dazed last-moment-counting
Morsel in the earth's mouth, strain to the master-
Fulcrum of violence where the hawk hangs still.
That maybe in his own time meets the weather

Coming the wrong way, suffers the air, hurled upside-down,
Falls from his eye, the ponderous shires crash on him,
The horizon trap him; the round angelic eye
Smashed, mix his heart's blood with the mire of the land.


Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn, 
More coiled steel than living - a poised 
Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs 
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start, a bounce, 
a stab 
Overtake the instant and drag out some writhing thing. 
No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states, 
No sighs or head-scratchings. Nothing but bounce and stab 
And a ravening second. 

Is it their single-mind-sized skulls, or a trained 
Body, or genius, or a nestful of brats 
Gives their days this bullet and automatic 
Purpose? Mozart's brain had it, and the shark's mouth 
That hungers down the blood-smell even to a leak of its own 
Side and devouring of itself: efficiency which 
Strikes too streamlined for any doubt to pluck at it 
Or obstruction deflect. 

With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback, 
Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk, 
Carving at a tiny ivory ornament 
For years: his act worships itself - while for him, 
Though he bends to be blent in the prayer, how loud and 
above what 
Furious spaces of fire do the distracting devils 
Orgy and hosannah, under what wilderness 
Of black silent waters weep.


Pike, three inches long, perfect 
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold. 
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin. 
They dance on the surface among the flies. 

Or move, stunned by their own grandeur, 
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette 
Of submarine delicacy and horror. 
A hundred feet long in their world. 

In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads- 
Gloom of their stillness: 
Logged on last year's black leaves, watching upwards. 
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds 

The jaws' hooked clamp and fangs 
Not to be changed at this date: 
A life subdued to its instrument; 
The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals. 

Three we kept behind glass, 
Jungled in weed: three inches, four, 
And four and a half: red fry to them- 
Suddenly there were two. Finally one 

With a sag belly and the grin it was born with. 
And indeed they spare nobody. 
Two, six pounds each, over two feet long 
High and dry and dead in the willow-herb- 

One jammed past its gills down the other's gullet: 
The outside eye stared: as a vice locks- 
The same iron in this eye 
Though its film shrank in death. 

A pond I fished, fifty yards across, 
Whose lilies and muscular tench 
Had outlasted every visible stone 
Of the monastery that planted them- 

Stilled legendary depth: 
It was as deep as England. It held 
Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old 
That past nightfall I dared not cast 

But silently cast and fished 
With the hair frozen on my head 
For what might move, for what eye might move. 
The still splashes on the dark pond, 

Owls hushing the floating woods 
Frail on my ear against the dream 
Darkness beneath night's darkness had freed, 
That rose slowly toward me, watching.

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