Hawk Roosting flashcards

katiehumphrey
Flashcards by katiehumphrey, updated more than 1 year ago
katiehumphrey
Created by katiehumphrey over 6 years ago
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GCSE English (Hawk Roosting) Flashcards on Hawk Roosting flashcards, created by katiehumphrey on 01/17/2014.
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subject This poem comes from an early volume of poetry called 'Lupercal'. Published in 1960, it contains many poems about animals and nature and takes its title from an ancient, pre-Roman festival celebrating spring. We can interpret the poem: literally (celebrating the hawk itself). The hawk is a bird of prey, known for its intelligence and incredibly sharp eyesight. In medieval times hawks were also used by kings and aristocrats for hunting. metaphorically (exploring themes associated with the bird). We talk about being hawk-eyed - observant. We also think about politicians being 'hawkish' or hawk-like, which means being aggressive towards other countries, favouring, for example, military intervention.
form This poem has a strong, regular form. It is written in six stanzas of four lines each. The length of the lines vary, but even the shorter lines still express strong, controlled ideas (e.g. line 21). So the overall effect of the form is to express strength and control.
structure The first two stanzas are about his physical superiority – both in what his body is like and where he can sit. Stanzas three and four reveal his power of nature, and how he holds everything, including life and death, in his claws. The final two stanzas form a kind of justification for his actions. He explains why he is not just right because of physical superiority but also the way he acts without deception (and he has the support of the sun to prove it!). The structure takes us through different aspects of his thought process, it arrives where it began. The poem begins and ends in lines beginning with 'I'. This underlines the key idea of the poem: he is a ruler who will continue to rule exactly how he pleases for years to come.
sound There is one key sound that echoes through all the stanzas. This is the long 'ee' sound for example found four times in stanza one. This sound runs throughout the poem. This may suggest the only sound to be heard throughout the wood is the screeching of the hawk itself. The other sound effect is repetition of words referring to itself - the hawk's references to itself appear in every stanza. This shows how egocentric and self-important the bird is.
imagery The language is simple. The words found in stanza two are words you might find in an office. This kind of language contrasts with the threatening language of violence as in line 16. This contrast suggests a leader trying to be a calm sophisticated politician, while really he is a violent thug. The use of negatives (no) in lines 2, 15, 20 and 23 makes the phrases sound like political slogans. They suggest the hawk is rejecting the political process, relying instead on brute force (line 16). He also says he does not use clever language in line 15 and arguments to put his case forward - line 20 but then, in line 21, suggests the sun supports his arguments and is behind him.
themes and ideas When it came out, this poem was quite controversial. The image of the hawk sitting on top of the world, controlling everything through the threat of violence made people think of a fascist leader - the Nazi symbol was an eagle standing on top of a wreath. Ted Hughes said he wanted to show 'nature thinking', but even so the hawk's thoughts are brutal. The bird sees itself as a political leader who has seized power from the forces that made it (line 12). The hawk clearly rejects the political process that works by different parties putting arguments before the general public.
comparison to 'next to of course god america i' next to of course god america i – this poem is also a political speech. It also examines the language that politicians use and the reasons they use it. The voices in the two poems use different means (the hawk is much more open about its use of force to persuade). But both suggest the same conclusion: violence and death for the weak.
comparison to 'The Falling Leaves' The Falling Leaves – this poem also uses nature as a source of negative imagery about conflict. Ideas about ordinary people dying in war are inspired by the sight of leaves falling. In a similar way, the image of a hawk is used not to express ideas about flight or speed or beauty, but political exploitation. While the use of language and the tone of each poem are very different, one effect is the same. Nature offers a timeless, unchanging backdrop to the recurring tragedies of mankind.
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