PoetryTed Hughes

Stanza by Stanza Analysis of Hawk Roosting

6 Mins read


“Hawk Roosting” is a poem by Ted Hughes, one of many 20th century’s most distinguished poets. In the poem, taken from Hughes’s second collection, Lupercal, a hawk is given the ability of speech and thought, permitting the readers to think about what it is like to inhabit the instincts, attitudes, and behaviors of such a creature. This explicit work depends on personification – the bird is talking to itself, like a human – describing violent scenes, claiming domination, which signifies that the reader has to wrestle with concepts that transcend the animal kingdom and into the realm of the human and related psychological and political points.

Some critics see within the ruthless behavior of the hawk for example, a despot or dictator, that cares solely about power, a symbol of the fascist.

The poem is especially eager to emphasize the best way that violence, within the hawk’s world at least, will not be some type of ethical flawed—but part of nature.


Hawk Roosting is told from the viewpoint of a hawk. The hawk details all of the things in nature that can be found to him. He perches within the tall trees, sleeping and searching for his prey. He believes all that’s around him exists for him and solely him. He revels in his predatory nature, fearing nothing and staking his declare on all the things. He sees himself as nearly god-like; all that’s round him is the best way it’s as a result of he deems it to be that way.


The poem is set throughout the hawk’s natural habitat: “the wood” (which is just about the identical as a forest). The poem opens with the hawk sitting on the high of a tree, its eyes closed in a state of relaxation. Stanza two expands on the setting, with the hawk noting the way that the “high trees” and “the air’s buoyancy and the sun’s ray” all appear completely suited to its manner of being. In different phrases, the natural setting is completely attuned to the hawk.

Read About: Man vs Nature in Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes

But there’s one other dimension to the setting, too. The poem could be very a lot an interior monologue, set throughout the thoughts—or the imagined thoughts—of the hawk. So when it comes to setting the poem is as much concerning the hawk’s psychology as it’s concerning the actual landscape.

Stanza 1

“I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.”

The first line is pure innocence. Here is the hawk settling down for an evening’s sleep at roosting time. The place he holds is safe – on the high of the wood, overseeing all. One factor for sure, this hawk has a thoughts of its personal. It can assume, like a human.

The second line will get the reader considering too. That lengthy 4 syllable phrase falsifying has repercussions. At this early stage there isn’t a context for this phrase, which means to mislead, however it points towards comparability with people, who’re liable to mislead each other. This bird is pure raptor, cannot be anything.

Enjambment (the continuation of a sentence with no pause beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza.)  

leads to line three and the repeated hooked simply to emphasise that this hawk is physically spectacular and sharp. And these hooked features could be known as into action if the hawk falls asleep. Subconscious perfection of future hunts and kills.


Repetition is a literary device that repeats the identical words or phrases a number of times to make an idea clearer and extra memorable.

Between my hooked head and hooked feet:


The attribution of a personal nature or human traits to something non-human, or the illustration of an abstract quality in human type.

Read About: Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes; Major Themes

The hawk personifies people and superiority by saying “hooked” and “feet”. (as an alternative of claiming paw for feet and clench for hooking)

Stanza 2

“The convenience of the high trees!
The air’s buoyancy and the sun’s ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth’s face upward for my inspection.”

This hawk has all of it labored out, from tree to earth, his physicality suits. Being high up means that there’s an overview, a pure domination. The air’s upward power and warmth are there to be taken benefit of. Even the earth is going through the suitable manner so close inspection comes as a given.

Stanza 3

“My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot”

Focus on the feet once more as they close tight across the bark on the tree. Note the primary lines of 5 of the stanzas are complete inside themselves. End stopped. This means certainty and offers immediate control.

The theme of mastery continues, this time introducing the concept of the entire of Creation being throughout the grasp of this extremely dominant figure.

Lines 10 – 12 are a focus within the poem for they counsel that Creation itself was concerned within the making of this hawk and that now, the roles are reversed so to talk. It’s the hawk that’s holding Creation, changing into the master of all.


Allusion is a figure of speech, through which an object or circumstance from unrelated context is referred to covertly or not directly.

Hughes makes use of the phrase “creation” to explain God.

Stanza 4

“Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly –
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads –:

The perspective modifies because the hawk continues its monologue, which isn’t a dream as we all know it, however a live commentary.

Now the hawk is flying, watching the earth revolve because it makes its manner up and up in readiness for a kill. That all essential 4 letter phrase that first popped up within the opening stanza is here once more – kill – I kill – that act which is so frequent and regular within the predator’s world but is so stunning and arduous to deal with within the human world. The language is spare but stuffed with conceitedness and fierceness.

Stanza 5

“The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right”

The hawk offers out applicable deaths, that’s the objective of the unwavering path when it’s about to strike ‘through the bones‘, a quite terrifying but efficient phrase.

It kills with out malice; the bird world’s permissions are non-existent; environmental guidelines don’t apply.

Stanza 6

“The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.”

All a hawk wants, is the sun. Right now the sun is setting. In the thoughts of the hawk nothing has modified, nothing ever will change. As lengthy because the hawk has an eye fixed, the all-seeing eye, its will to stay the same shall persist.

This final stanza sums up the hawk’s perspective to life and death. In one sense it’s a pure ego that’s talking -undiluted, pure, true to itself.

Read About: Common Themes in Ted Hughes Poetry


The speaker on this poem is none aside from the hawk itself. The hawk is personified all through, giving the poet (and the reader) the possibility to think about the inside ideas of this fearsome bird of prey. In specific, this method is helpful as a result of it allows the poem to discover variations between the hawk’s attitudes and behaviors and those of humankind.

The use of personification additionally allows the poem to implicitly critique the way in which people think about the world. The hawk has “no falsifying dream,” and indulges in no “sophistry” or “manners”. In different phrases, the hawk as a speaker could be very completely different from a human speaker. Although its most important task in life is killing, it isn’t depicted as evil. Rather, it exists as part of nature that’s outside human morality.


The hawk is the illustration of people, the poem by no means says that hawk is a hawk and it likes to kill and symbolizes power.


Ted Hughes, in “Hawk Roosting,” paints an image of a creature that’s ruthless and self-involved, displaying how a lust for power can take over a being and end in brutality.

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