Black is the earth-globe, one inch under,
An egg of blackness
Where sun and moon alternate their weathers
To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
Bent in emptiness
By the time Ted Hughes published his great and terrible Crow, he was trailing more ghouls than Paulie Walnuts. Assia Wevill had very recently killed herself and their child, and in the same manner (gas) that Sylvia Plath had killed herself six years previously. The figure of Crow is cut from just such black cloth. Hughes described the poems in the following way for the limited edition Crow LP released in 1973:
Finding the right speech for Crow involved me in inventing a longish series of episodes, beginning, in traditional fashion, in heaven, where Crow is created, as part of a wager, by the mysterious, powerful, invisible prisoner of the being men call God. This particular God, of course, is the man-created, broken-down, corrupt despot of a ramshackle religion, who bears about the same relationship to the Creator as, say, ordinary English does to reality.
Surely one of the greatest volumes of English poetry of the last century or so, Crow is terrible and compelling and brilliant, and Hughes makes a fine selection for the following 1996 recording, right through to the relatively gentle coda of “How Water Began to Play” and “Littleblood.”