The poem that has stood out to me the most so far is Ted Hughes’ “Crow Wakes.” In it a crow explodes, sleeps, then wakes to his different blown up body parts arguing, then fails at an attempt to escape the dismantled appendages.
I think initially I was captivated by this poem because of its goriness. A few different lines remind me of fever dreams I have had like, “I became smaller than water, I stained into the soil-/crumble./ I became smaller.” Just imagining these lines provokes a strange, nostalgic nausea. The imagery of the poem only gets odder. “My eyes fell out of my head and into an atom.” My mind’s eye sees two eyeballs being sucked from their sockets and entering orbit around the nucleus of an atom like two electrons. Up until the point that the speaker falls asleep, the strange sights continue, like an eye watching the speaker from a cat’s anus.
Once the speaker of the poem awakes he hears his dismantled body parts argue about what they used to be a part of. The breastbone claims the group was part of a leopard, a rib says they were a fine woman, and an unnamed appendage claims they were “a stinking clot of ectoplasm that/ suffocated a nun”. This scene make me wonder if Hughes is commenting on our natural desire to be something greater, or at least different, than what we actually are.
The speaker of the poem tries to sneak away from his appendages, but in his attempt gets noticed and chased. This seems to suggest that one can not escape their body. Earlier in the poem the speaker fails at an attempt to silence his right leg with a towel, suggesting that we must listen to our bodies as well.
Perhaps the most intriguing yet confusing part of the poem comes in the end.
“A freezing hand caught hold of me by the hair
And lifted me off my feet and set me high
Over the whole earth on a blazing star
This ending aggravates me. I despise cliff hangers. Just as the speaker fails to tell the guessing extremities what they used to be a part of, the speaker leaves the readers guessing what the star is called that he was set upon.