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« Movie Quiz: Part One [by DL] | Main | Ten Takes (Including One Spit Take) with Dentists [by Alan Ziegler] »

March 18, 2015


I remember when it came out -- to great fanfare -- in England, where I was studying at Cambridge. DL

Thanks for this post, Amy. I love this book, too. It is certainly Hughes's masterwork, though it came at a great cost, birthed by the tragic deaths of Sylvia Plath, Assia Wevill, and the 4 year-old Shura. In my eyes, it is the defining collection of the 1970s, not just for what it is, but also for how influential it was on British poetry in that decade. I always share this quote from Rand Brandes with my students when I teach Hughes:

“If our deepest grief could speak, it would speak Crow…No one who truly engages Crow can forget it; it becomes a terrible touchstone in one’s memory field…[It] is clearly Hughes’s ‘dark night of the soul’, and it is disturbingly prophetic…a black hole where neither light nor language can escape. In Crow’s world the heaviness of History, with its perpetual genocides and wrong turns, crushes hope; mass graves litter the landscape. DNA, with its Darwinian determinism, intertwines with the self-fulfilling prophecies of Christianity in an Apocalyptic danse macabre.”

You may well have heard of this already, but one of the things that emerged from the widespread British arts initiative that coincided with the 2012 London Olympics was an amazing puppet show based on Crow. It was one of the most unique, strange, and moving shows I've seen. A line from Shakespeare kept running through my head as I watched: “Humanity must perforce prey upon itself/Like monsters of the deep.” Here is a "behind the scenes" video:

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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