“I sit in the top of the wood my eyes closed”
—> Dramatic monologue , first person of I highlights the hawk’s dominance, looking down on all others
“Top of the wood” like a dictator, indicating its power
“Eyes closed” show that the hawk is so powerful and complacent that it can relax
“Inaction, no falsifying dream”
—> inaction shows the passive nature of a powerful leader such as the Hawk, implying the bird’s negligence to the duty of his people - draw parallels between hawk and 20th century dictators
-falsifying dream: hawk lives a perfect reality where he does not need to dream
“It took the whole of creation to produce my foot”
“I hold creation in my foot”
—> arrogant tone suggests that the hawk views itself as the pinnacle of creation and superior to other creatures
Statement “I hold creation in my foot” is deluded - illusions of grandeur. Statement suggests confidence. Comparing himself to god - deifying himself
“I kill where I please because it is all mine”
—> “Mine” is possessive - abusing it’s power
“Please” suggests pleasure and satisfaction - it is enjoyable for the hawk
Act of depravity - has authority over life and death
2nd why: Hughes condemns the exploitation of power, where rulers commit acts of depravity and despotism for personal gain
“My manners are tearing off heads”
—> Juxtaposition between civility and barbarity - juxtaposing the manners you would expect from a dictator with his barbaric and ruthless actions.
Killing is normalised for the hawk as manners are something that people show on a daily basis
- 4th why: Hughes criticises how power often strips people of their moral compass and sense of conscience, resulting in them behaving in an animalistic, barbaric manner
“”The sun is behind me
Nothing has changed since I began
My eye has permitted no change”
—> Hawk is superior to the sun OR the sun supports him
Everything is fixed and restrictive within the society
Hawk rules with terror
Setting sun could be Hughes subtly implying the rein of the hawk is over - though the hawk is confident and has misplaced superiority all power is transient
“I am going to keep things like this”
—>Statement - emphasises finality
Confident in his ways and enjoys the power as it benefits him - 2nd why: Hughes condemns the exploitation of power, where rulers commit acts of depravity and despotism for personal gain
Structure and form:
“Hawk Roosting” is made up of sixquatrains. That said, this is the only real formal constraint placed on the poem—there is norhyme schemeor strictmeter. However, the quatrains, combined with the poem’s extensive use ofend-stoppedlines, do give the poem a sense of order and patterning.
“Hawk Roosting” does not follow a regularmetricalscheme, but is rather written infree verse. That doesn’t mean that the poem isn’t attentive to the use of stresses, but that there is no overall governing meter. In fact, since meter might suggest human artifice, the poem instead employs tightly controlled but erratic stresses, which mimic the hawk’s instinctual, highly calibrated movements.
“Hawk Roosting” doesn’t have arhyme scheme. A poem with neat rhymes might have counteracted the poem’s picture of the hawk’s capacity for violence and killing—it would have seemed too clean, too human. This approach has a roughness and unpredictability that matches the hawk’s way of being.
Good old context:
Hawk Roosting (1960)
* Hawk: a hawk is a bird of prey, often associated with viciousness.
* Fascism: The symbol of a hawk standing on top of the world has been linked to fascism (an authoritarian, and nationalistic right-wing system of government), due to the similarity to the Nazi symbol of an eagle standing on top of a wreath, alongside the themes of violence and control within the poem. While, the mannerisms of the hawk could be seen as reminiscent o many powerful and corrupt dictators in the 20th century, the awe and attitude of the hawk also captures their ability to inspire and intimidate their audiences.
* Military background: Hughes’ military background and first-hand experience of conflict, having spent two years in the RAF, may justify his view that destruction and violence is as instinctual for humans as it is for the hawk.