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Crow Tyrannosaurus Spring 2009

Page history last edited by Kyuhee (Ginny) Chae 13 years, 5 months ago

Ted Hughes (1930-1998)


Crow Tyrannosaurus[1] (1970)


Creation quaked voices--

It was a cortege

Of mourning and lament[2]

Crow could hear and he looked around fearfully.


The swift's body fled past


With insects

And their anguish, all it had eaten.


The cat's body writhed[3]


A tunnel

Of incoming death-struggles, sorrow on sorrow.[4]


And the dog was a bulging filterbag

Of all the deaths it had gulped for flesh and the bones.

It could not digest their screeching finales.

Its shapeless cry was a blort of all these voices.


Even man he was a walking


Of innocents--[5]

His brain incinerating their outcry.


Crow thought "Alas

Alas ought I

to stop eating

And try to become the light?"


But his eye saw a grub. And his head, trapsprung, stabbed.

And he listened

And he heard



Grubs grubs He stabbed he stabbed




Weeping he walked and stabbed


Thus came the eye's roundness the ear's deafness. [8][9][10]


  1. The title "Crow Tyrannosaurus" reflects several of the motifs of his poem. The theme of the constant transformation is captured in the juxtaposition of "crow," a bird, and "tyrannosaurus," a dinosaur, to which we know the bird is the closest modern relative. Perpetuation of life through death--the bird killing insects for sustenance, then the cat eating the bird, the dog consuming the cat, the man's very body likened to a slaughterhouse, and finally his decay and being eaten by the very worms stabbed by the crow--is also conveyed by the title's suggestion of the lineage of survivors. Interestingly, the two creatures appear in reverse chronological order in the title. I interpret this as zeroing in on the poem's preoccupation with the life cycle coming "full circle"--that the highest on the food chain eventually, through its death, supports the lowliest of life forms--and in this way alludes to a very "samsaric" conception of earthly life. Alison Mattox
  2. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It highlights a conflicting image in which we see the creation inherent in life and the suffering inherent in death that characterize an absurd world. We see "creation" in the first line, but then Hughes goes on to describe it as "a cortege / Of mourning and lament." Pairing creation with mourning and lament seems unusual and contradictory. Furthermore, cortege literally denotes a funeral procession. So right off the bat, the reader is confronted with a paradoxical view of life and death, of creation and suffering, in the same image. As the poem unfolds, Hughes uses specific words with negative connotations to describe the actions of consuming food to preserve life. We see "the cat's body writhed / Gagging," the dog, a "bulging filterbag," and man being a "walking / Abattoir / Of innocents." Hughes uses all these negative words to describe an action that is necessary to preserve life and perpetuate creation. Together, these elements help illustrate a darkly ironic image of life and death, creation and suffering, that reflect the aspects of an absurd world. Patrick McFarland
  3. The way in which Hughes writes the third stanza helps the reader visualize its content. The first verse of the third stanza establishes that "The cat’s body writhed" (line 9). Next, the cat begins to "gag," which causes the cat to choke and pause (line 10). Hughes only places one word in this verse contrasting with the longer length of the previous verse. The narrowing of the tenth verse represents the narrowing of the cat's throat due to "gagging." Hughes then describes "A tunnel," which is also narrow and appears as a short verse on the page (line 11). Finally, the last verse of the stanza lengthens as Hughes depicts the "incoming-death struggles" (line 12). This lengthening reflects the numerous sorrows and death that the cat has caused. Stacey Elkhatib
  4. The poem is very interesting in the way that is talks about death. The poet uses words that are very graphic but also words that are somewhat sympathetic to the material being covered. This varied use of language is indicative of the crow’s mentality as the poem progresses. In the beginning, the crow devours everything in sight and is frightened by the terrible cries and shrills he hears. As he continues to eat the bodies of various animals he wants the terror to end, but his appetite is not easily satisfied. He realizes that he "ought to stop eating" but he sees more food and cannot control himself. Thus the sorrow of both the crow and the animals he hungers for remain filled with sorrow.
  5. The term "innocents" alludes to the the cycle of life and death and the food chain to which we are constrained. The past 3 stanzas talk about basically talk about how insects are eaten by birds which are eaten by cats and dogs. Finally, since humans are at the top of the food chain, we inevitably have to consume and kill these "innocents" in order to quench our hunger. He questions this by saying "ought I to stop eating," but ultimately there can be no other way. Perhaps the title is appropriate for this moral dilemma because a crow is known to be one of the most intelligent birds while a Tyrannosaurus Rex is often ascribed to being a ferocious killer/carnivore. Brandon
  6. Hughes provides many words that are appealing to the readers' eye and ears throughout the poem in which helps the readers to effectively visualize the scene. The word "quaked"(1) helps the readers to hear and look the scene just like the crow in the scene. In stanza 7, the crow sees a grub and shows the readers how he kills it by stabbing, but Hughes also provides word "weeping" of the grub (the crow might have also wept), the poem ends with a sentence ending with "the ear's deafness" (33) which indirectly reveals the mercilessness of the crow. Juhee Ban
  7. The words used in this poem created very dramatic and violent images. Hughes creates a monster that won't stop killing. However, it is apparent from this stanza that the monster does not want to kill. This idea is apparent in the line, "Alas/ Alas, ought I/ to stop eating and try to become the light?" The monster believes once he stops killing, he will become 'light," this term gives a positive connotation. The word light reminded me of the association to the color white, which commonly stands for peace. In comparison to this, the monster feels dark and regrets his killings. Even though the monster wants to stop killing, he cannot help but to kill. The repetition of the word "weeping" shows the monster does not want to kill, because he is crying while he is killing. Shahanz Rahman
  8. The Crow has to stab the grub, simply because he is Crow. At first, he is aware of the suffering involved: 'he heard weeping', and sympathetically weeps himself. But, paradoxically, this very weeping improves his eyesight for the grubs that enables him to kill and makes him deaf to the suffering involved. Suffering and death is a trap which Crow cannot seem to escape but he can ignore it. The reader also gets a stabbing feeling because there is no punctuation and they are fragmented giving the feeling of pecking at the ground. He is not concerned with the situation of the grubs because it is natural to eat when hungry, almost a reflex action. ~Seema
  9. I don't know if this is just Ted Hughes style as I haven't read a lot of his work, but the enjambment of lines really slows the poem down, forcing the reader to focus on very specific, distinct ideas and images. In addition to slowing the poem down, I think the almost illogical structure of sentences makes it difficult to comprehend on a larger scale; we pay too much attention to detail. To solve this, Hughes uses a lot of repetition, which helps the reader go back to past ideas and relate different parts of the poem with one another, or when repetition is more concentrated into one area, clarity is gained because the repeated words stand out, giving the reader a general sense of what the most important concepts are.
  10. The "eye's roundness" that comes at the expense of the "ear's deafness" is a result of the primal nature of animals to hunt and kill. Just as the crow kills and eats the worm, and so on and so forth, humans are described as a walking slaughterhouse. While the crow does questions whether or not he should resist and "become the light", the following line, "But his eyes saw a grub. And his head, trapsprung, stabbed", shows that this mental hesitation is taken over by the physical instinct to kill and survive. By comparing this very human need to the "light", it is implied that the "light" is something divine: not human and not vulnerable to physical instincts/needs. Over time, the crow's ear grows deaf to these sounds (the line "weeping he walked and stabbed" implies the passing of time in which the crow continually kills worms), and hunts with more skill and no remorse. ginny

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