I recently watched Sylvia (2003) directed by Christine Jeffs. It is a fascinating and inspiring film that has prompted me to read some of Ted Hughes’ poetry. The following is taken from ‘A Disaster’ in The Life and Songs of the Crow:
There came news of a word.
Crow saw it killing men. He ate well.
He saw it bulldozing
Whole cities to rubble. Again he ate well.
He saw its excreta poisoning seas.
He became watchful.
He saw its breath burning whole lands
To dust char.
Hughes’ poetry invests the figure of Crow with everything – meaning that Hughes himself embodies it while also being entirely alienated by this impossible bird. Observing the disaster of ‘the word’ here, Crow both is and exceeds the place words occupy. This is a mind-bending collection that makes me feel excited about poetry again and the way poems are always such a nuanced combination of words with silence.