What is the moral or message of the poem "Hawk Roosting" by Ted Hughes? 

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katwood001 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes centers around a predatory bird that is perched on a branch.  The poem is told from the bird's point of view.  The hawk's view of the world is highly self-involved.  It sees itself as the most powerful being in existence where it is the master of life and death.  The hawk goes so far as to place the sun and creation (God) behind himself because he is more powerful than they could ever be. The final three lines of the poem are very telling to the message of the poem: 

Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.

The hawk's complete certainty of its power and control over the universe is reminiscent of countries that are in power and believe that they can never fall.  Many critics have suggested that Ted Hughes is specifically targeting the United States with this poem. I disagree by the fact that the symbolism would be stronger if he had chosen an eagle. Instead, the poem can be used to reflect not only the United States but any figure who flies high above the masses, sure of their position, without ever realizing that they are in fact fragile and surrounded by other more ominous dangers. This message of hubris pertains to anyone who might get a bigger head than they truly deserve.  Like Icarus, those who fly too close to the sun (forget themselves and where they have been) are doomed to fall and be lost.  

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