Power, Politics, and Poetry

Shalaka Damle and Silpa Gollapudi

"The Hawk in the Rain" by Ted Hughes


  • The speaker is walking one day struggling through the harsh rain. He then sees above him a hawk who appears to not be in the least affected
  • He then gets angry as he is dealing with the furious weather and the mud that he feels will swallow him up while the hawk "effortlessly" seems unperturbed
  • However, he then switches to a different idea in which he ponders a situation where the hawk takes a wrong turn in the weather and then will flung towards the ground ending his life.
  • The poem displays an idea of contrast between steadiness and stability versus unsteadiness and danger
  • The author Ted Hughes uses vivid imagery to describe the struggling of the man, the image of the hawk, and the death of the hawk he pictures in his mind.

The poem contrasts the life of a man and a hawk both literally and figuratively; contrast between steadiness and unsteadiness; depicts human suffering - death cannot be escaped.

Sonic Analysis

Tone: Somber, Depressing, Despondent

Hughes uses alliteration to give the words sound. In the words like "drown in the drumming" and "clay that clutches", it helps visualize the sound of the rain and the steps of the man walking in the mud. Hughes also uses words like hallucination followed by the phrase of banging wind to create an auditory and visual feeling of being in a trance-like state. Also, the author makes use of the word fulcrum which means a turning point but this is the point where the hawk stands still. Lastly, the phrase "ponderous shires crash" help illustrate the deciding fate of the hawk due to the power of the earth. The sensory responses most evoked by the sounds are visual and touch, as the author creates an image in the audience's mind while using phrases that induce sensing feeling on one's skin.

Tonal Analysis

Instructions to the Reader: When the author discusses the weather, the reader should read the passage with intense emotion and drama. When the poem switches towards the hawk, the passage should be read with a more calm and tranquil mood.

When Hughes uses words like swallowing, dogged, he sets up the dramatic tone of the play. He then transitions and uses words like effortlessly, weightless, streaming to describe the hawk and switch the tone. In the rest of the poem, the calm tone is mainly kept with slight tonal changes.

* - pauses to take

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,*
Fall 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.

Artistic Connection

Frédéric Chopin's "Raindrop" Prelude, Op 28, No. 15
The poem makes us think of feelings of death, despair, and envy. We linked the poem to the piano composition "Raindrop" Prelude, Op. 28, No. 15 by Frédéric Chopin. "Raindrop" reflects the tone of the poem, as it changes its sound from a tranquil setting to a dramatic setting. The composition "Raindrop" also tells the story of contemplation of the inner self, much like what was illustrated in the poem as well.

Thematic Connection

The universal appeals that relate to this poem are ones of struggles faced by humans in life, death, and envy.
A piece of literature that shares the same idea as "The Hawk in the Rain" is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The Fault in our Stars shares the same contrast of steadiness vs. unsteadiness between the main two characters, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters.

Works Cited

Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2013.

"Frederic Chopin's "Raindrop" Prelude, Op 28, No. 15." YouTube. YouTube, 25 Mar. 2009. Web. 07 Jan. 2013.

"Out Of The Blue." : The Hawk in the Rain. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.