Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes Poem Analysis

This sample of an academic paper on Hawk Roosting Essay reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. ” – Lord Acton. This is often true, especially when some of the most powerful rulers such as Hitler and Mussolini were bloodthirsty and merciless dictators. To many, Stalin was the epitome of a sadistic, power-hungry tyrant, in complete control.

As it is often the powerless who want freedom, the world gets divided into the ones in power, the ones trying to gain power, and the ones rebelling against absolute power.

Usage of a Hawk to Portray Human Traits

Ted Hughes is a poet who uses animals to portray human emotions, such as greed and ambition. He personifies inanimate objects and emotions to bring across his message. In his poem ‘Hawk Roosting’, Hughes speaks in first person, the hawk as the speaker.

His personal views, on many occasions clash with those of the hawk, which in my opinion is affective as it shows how the poet differs from his subject. In the first stanza, the poet very quickly takes us into the poem, by giving us an image of the hawk.

It seems as though the speaker, the hawk, is indifferent about the reader’s presence as he’s asleep. The hawk appears to be in control, as he’s higher than anyone and anything else, ‘I sit in the top of the wood’.

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Also, he shows he feels he’s invulnerable, and immortal, as if nothing can hurt him, ‘with my eyes closed’. The first stanza introduces the reader to the hawk’s attitude to life, explaining that he feels he’s living his dream, and that his reality is as good as anybody’s dream, ‘inaction, no falsifying dream’.

There is also a clear description of the physical appearance of the hawk, streamlined and sleek. The fact that the poet mentions the hawk’s head and feet, ‘between my hooked head and my hooked feet’, shows that the speaker, the hawk, sees himself as streamlined from the top to the bottom, and mentions the basic animal hunting tools, the claws and the beak. This suggests that although the hawk appears to have human emotions, the hawk itself, is merely an animal built for survival through hunting.

The air of arrogance and control is already apparent, as the hawk, instead of sleeping like a ordinary animal, plans and perfects his kills; controlling sleep, therefore controlling nature, ‘in sleep rehearsing perfect kills and eat’. The fact that he refers to ‘kills’ in plural, and ‘eat’ in singular is unusual and suggests that he kills not only to survive, but sees it as an art; a skill to perfect and develop. In the second stanza, the reader is given an image of the hawk’s surroundings and environment.

The poet highlights that the hawk is in control, through the description of the surroundings. Rather than describing what is there, Hughes describes the way the speaker, the hawk, sees everything, through the eyes of the hawk. By describing the advantages of the situation first, the poet starts off the stanza by putting the hawk in complete control of his surroundings, as if he’s in harmony with nature, almost controlling it to his advantage, ‘the convenience of the high trees!

The fact that the hawk is on top of everything shows he’s got an advantage above everything else, and also seems like he’s looking down on everything as his property and belongings. This is also shown through the way he describes the elements; as if they were put there just for him, to his advantage, made the way he wants. Those advantages also help him hunt and survive, such as ‘the air’s buoyancy and the sun’s ray’, the air helping him fly, and the sun blinding his victims.

This feeling of possession is shown through the personification of the earth, ‘the earth’s face upward for my inspection’, as if the earth’s face, is staring up at it, in awe and inferiority; as if it is there for him to judge. After making the point about being on top of the wood in the first stanza, the poet then refers to how the hawk is sitting. As being on top of the wood is linked with being on top of the world, by saying that the hawk has his feet locked on the tree, the hawk is almost saying that he has his feet locked around the whole world “My feet are locked upon the rough bark”.

This highlights how the hawk imagines himself to be in complete control of everything, the entire world. The next line accentuates the hawk’s perception of the world as being his, when he turns the tables, almost, on Mother Nature. It seems to the reader, as if in the hawk’s mind everything was pointless up until the moment in time when he was created. It appears as though, to the hawk, he is the perfect being, and has the right to control everything because it is all his and he were made to be in charge of everything. It took the whole of Creation/ to produce my foot, my each feather: / now I hold Creation in my foot”. This sentence also gives the reader the impression that, in the hawk’s mind, the whole of creation exists because of him, and for him, and also as it apparently took so long for him to be made, he is perfect. The poet now begins to show how contradictory his own personal views are to the hawk. As we, the readers, by now have a clear image in our head of the power-corrupt hawk in our minds; Hughes now begins to subtly show us the hypocrisy in the hawk’s words.

When the hawk is flying around what he thinks he owns, he seems to be judging it, which the reader might see as slightly futile, as even if he saw a flaw in his perfect world, he would not have the power to change it in reality, despite what he may think. Therefore the element of disillusion is already introduced through this line, as well as denial, as the hawk appears to be happy with everything, so as not to look powerless against Mother Nature – “Or I fly up, and revolve it all slowly”.

The hypocrisy is shown through the way the hawk gives the reader the impression that he needs no excuse to kill as he was born with the right, yet is appearing to be explaining why he chooses to kill what he wants “I kill where I please it is all mine”. This shows that although the hawk appears to be completely comfortable with his reasoning on the fact that he kills and needs no excuse, he gives us a reason anyway. If he saw no grains of truth in that maybe he does need a reason, he wouldn’t have excused himself.

Also, by giving us a reason for his way of life, he has completely undermined his whole basis for doing things the way he wants, as he is now telling us why he does things. The hawk then shows even more hypercriticism, as right after saying why he kills, he’s saying that he needs no reason to kill, as if to cover up in case the reader feels the reason given is somehow unsatisfactory – “There is no sophistry in my body”.

It feels as though the hawk is trying to give us the impression that he kills just for the fun of it, and although to some extent this is probably true, it seems as though he slightly exaggerates this. This is shown through the way he appears to need no reason for pointless killings, but then gives us one, and then to say that he only kills simply to kill, “My manners are tearing off heads”, which would have been obvious without him pointing this out. The fact that he feels the need to point it out shows that to some extent he only acts this way to appear superior and all-powerful.

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Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes Poem Analysis. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/hawk-roosting-by-ted-hughes-poem-analysis/

Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes Poem Analysis
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