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Crow’s First Lesson November 12, 2010

Posted by The Typist in 504, Crow, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Poetry, Toulouse Street.

I have my own personal fascination with crows, going back to the days when I saw the raven on the Grateful Dead’s Wake of the Flood and learned that these birds were not creatures of darkness or evil in all cultures. In Native cultures of North America Crow is a trickster (always fascinating creatures) but also bearer of messages from this and other worlds, keepers of secrets who could help one discover their own true self, and harbingers of change and agents of healing.

It’s strange, but I don’t remember New Orleans being so thick with crows the first 30 years of my life but today they are everywhere. Perhaps, since I have developed this fascination, I just notice them more. I asked my son if he didn’t think it Odd that just about anywhere you look, there’s a crow. He said he didn’t notice that. Perhaps it is my own fascination. Or are we a city where too many people die, a city going through an ordeal of rebirth and self-rediscovery and deeply in need of healing. Perhaps it is only natural that we would be a rookery of crows.

I started writing a series of Crow poems before I learned of (or remembered) Ted Hughes book, and immediately had to have a copy. His vision of a chaotic and godless world of random luck and death is tempered not by Wallace Steven’s vision of man as poet bringing order to the cosmos but of Crow in his trickster guise wreaking unintentional havoc. which is something humans are quite good at. And in that role the tricksters is, in the end, innocent. He is only acting on his nature.

Enough of your tricks, Brother Crow. Please tell me where my copy of Crow is hidden.

By Ted Hughes

God tried to teach Crow how to talk.
‘Love,’ said God. ‘Say, Love.’
Crow gaped, and the white shark crashed into the sea
And went rolling downwards, discovering its own depth.

‘No, no,’ said God. ‘Say Love. Now try it. LOVE.’
Crow gaped, and a bluefly, a tsetse, a mosquito
Zoomed out and down
To their sundry flesh-pots.

‘A final try,’ said God. ‘Now, LOVE.’
Crow convulsed, gaped, retched and
Man’s bodiless prodigious head
Bulbed out onto the earth, with swiveling eyes,
Jabbering protest–

And Crow retched again, before God could stop him.
And woman’s vulva dropped over man’s neck and tightened.
The two struggled together on the grass.
God struggled to part them, cursed, wept–

Crow flew guiltily off.


1. The Crows Again » Maitri's VatulBlog - November 12, 2010

[…] his latest, I recalled my grandmother feeding me as a small child, especially during the festival of Pongal, […]


2. coldH2Owi - November 12, 2010

This is a great poem, as all of Ted Hughes’ poems are. I go back & read his poems constantly. He salmon poems are just beautiful. Thanks for this one.


3. sussah - November 12, 2010

I think of November as a clear blue sky with a crow flying across. You’re right, there are more crows, they’ve made a comeback. In fact too many of them together in one tree is unsettling. sp


4. ALM - November 17, 2010

I work on the roof of the Tidewater Building, and it’s quite the crow roosting spot. It’s fascinating to watch them throughout the day–at sunset, about 50 of them usually show up to commune.

If you haven’t watched PBS Nature’s “A Murder of Crows,” you should.


5. Sunny Dawn Summers - February 4, 2011

From my office perch, I watch the crows come and go. I’m so intrigued by them. I see them everywhere and the haunt my quiet with their squalks. Love finding other NOLA bloggers. Great writing. Thanks.


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