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In "Hawk Roosting", the harshness and cruelty of nature is important, but Hughes shows that there is a form of beauty in this.

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Introduction

In "Hawk Roosting", the harshness and cruelty of nature is important, but Hughes shows that there is a form of beauty in this. Through giving the hawk thoughts and using the first person, the cruel arrogance of the bird is shown: "the earth faces upwards for my inspection" and "I will kill where I please" are powerful statements. Hughes wants to show how controlling the bird is and the neat, controlling form of the language reflects this. There is a beauty in the concise, controlled aspects of the poem. The poem is written from the point of view of the hawk, a bird of prey, who sits roosting in a tree. He sees the air and earth as if they are solely made for his benefit. He sees himself as the ultimate being of Creation. He claims he has power to revolve the world. He has power over life and death. He sees himself as utterly in control of the world and wishes to keep things like this. ...read more.

Middle

The poem when read aloud sounds a bit like a politician's speech, because it follows the speech patterns of someone who wants to make an impression. There are some longer sentences which set out his claims (for example, The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray / Are of advantage to me), and some short statements (The allotment of death...The sun is behind me) which make a strong impact. Look at the last stanza: it is made up of four single-sentence lines, which state the hawk's case very strongly and need to be read slowly and seriously. What idea of the hawk do they leave us with? The poem is written in six regular stanzas. Perhaps the regularity and order of the stanzas reminds us of the control the hawk claims to have over the world. Ideas and attitudes Now that you have looked at the poem carefully, what impressions do you have of the hawk? ...read more.

Conclusion

The Answer From the very outset, it is clear that the hawk is in control. The poem begins assertively with the pronoun I. The hawk is so secure in his position that he is able to announce the fact that he is resting, inaction, with his eyes closed. There is no falsifying dream - he has nothing to hide - between his hooked head and hooked feet. The repetition of hooked puts the reader on guard - it sounds slightly sinister. This idea is confirmed when the hawk goes on to say that his dreams are single-minded: he rehearses perfect kills. He is portrayed almost like a military dictator. The irony in the statement My manners are tearing off heads is intentional: the hawk actually seems proud of the fact that he does not worry about the way he eats, about how violently he rips up his victims before consuming them. He is so proud that 'manners' have ceased to matter. Someone in his unassailable position does not need to consider whom he might be offending. The statement simply emphasises his sense of absolute superiority. ...read more.

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