Following my visit to the T S Eliot exhibition, I looked up this poem, of which there was a recording by Hughes himself. This is strong, harsh poetry, contrasts the writer's loam clogged feet with the hawk's effortless aerial poise - but knowing, too, that the hawk must die and crash to the ground. What fierce, bloody, stubborn power there is in Ted Hughes' Hawk In The Rain:
I drown in the drumming ploughland, I drag up
Heel after heel from the swallowing of the earth's mouth,
From clay that clutches my each step to the ankle
With the habit of the dogged grave, but the hawk
Effortlessly at height hangs his still eye.
His wings hold all creation in a weightless quiet,
Steady as a hallucination in the streaming air.
While banging wind kills these stubborn hedges,
Thumbs my eyes, throws my breath, tackles my heart,
And rain hacks my head to the bone, the hawk hangs,
The diamond point of will that polestars
The sea drowner's endurance: And I,
Bloodily grabbed dazed last-moment-counting
Morsel in the earth's mouth, strain to the master-
Fulcrum of violence where the hawk hangs still.
That maybe in his own time meets the weather
Coming the wrong way, suffers the air, hurled upside-down,
Falls from his eye, the ponderous shires crash on him,
The horizon trap him; the round angelic eye
Smashed, mix his heart's blood with the mire of the land.