Compare the ways the poets present ideas about power in ‘Hawk Roosting’ (page 49) and in one other poem from Conflict.
Ted Hughes’ poem, ‘Hawk Roosting’, is a domestic monologue through the eyes of the hawk. The poem is flooded with power, arrogance and cruelty, and the hawk represents the natural order of life – the desire for power and dominance. The hawk is also in charge, and looks down on everything as it sits “in the top of the wood”, and “no falsifying dream” shows that it has no imagination; it does what it needs to succeed.
Furthermore, Ted Hughes uses formal language to portray the superiority of the hawk, and the constant repetition of first person pronouns (“I”, “my”, “me”) show the egocentrism and narcissism of the hawk. The hawk doesn’t feel it needs to justify its power as it says “no arguments assert my right”. “it is all mine” also shows that the hawk assumes that it can do whatever it wants to do, and the violent language used throughout the poem, for example “through the bones of the living”, presents the hawk as a killing machine without any emotion.
As a reader, we see the hawk as a fascist leader – the image of the hawk sitting on top of the world, controlling everything though the threat of violence and its brutal thoughts. The hawk sees itself as a political leader who has seized power from the forces that made it as “now I could hold Creation in my foot”. The capital ‘C’ turns the hawk into a God-like power that is taking over.
In addition, the poem has a strong, regular form as it is written in six stanzas that are four lines each. This form mirrors how there is no change as the hawk is “going to keep things like this”. The lengths of the lines vary but the shorter lines, like “the sun is behind me”, still express strong, controlled ideas of the hawk.
The first two stanzas are about the hawks’ physical superiority – both of what his body is like (“hooked head and hooked feet”), and where he can sit. Stanzas three and four reveal his power of nature and how the hawk holds everything, including life and death, in his claws. Finally, the last two stanzas form a justification for his actions. The structure overall takes the reader through different aspects of the hawks thought process, and highlights the key idea of the poem; he is a ruler who will continue to rule exactly how he pleases.
‘next to of course god america I’ by E. E. Cummings is a political speech – shown by the speech marks – written in the first person. It has a strong rhyme scheme, but this is hidden when spoken aloud to suggest a sense of deception on the part of the speaker. Furthermore, it is a satirical poem, making a joke out of people who encourage patriotism in others. The poem itself is littered with connotations of power, religion and war. The title of the poem links America with God to please the audience, and to make them feel as if their country is as powerful as God.
The poem is filled with references to great ideas – from God, America, Liberty. The language and grammar, however, show that we cannot take these ideas seriously as the lack of punctuation makes it confusing and meaningless. Cummings uses an oxymoron with “heroic happy dead” to make it sound ridiculous and seem like the political speaker is contradicting himself, and is even confused with his own thoughts and ideas. The contrast