Last Reviewed on June 27, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 367
Ted Hughes's Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow is his best known collection of poetry. All the poems are part of a connected narrative. The characters are deities, theological figures, and archetypes.
Crow is the main character, a creator and a trickster with elements from Celtic and indigenous cosmologies, as well as the Old Testament of the Bible. A trickster, in most cultures, is an example of what not to be, and the audience learns not to follow his example. Yet he is also a comedic or ironic character for his foolishness, persistence, and belief that he is smarter than he actually is. Hughes uses Crow as a symbol both of the creative life force and chaos, intuition and deception, and as both a preserver and a destroyer.
The Interrogator acts as a narrator for part of the poems. They are never named. They describe Crow and all the living simply by their appearance and say that they eventually lose to Death.
Death is the judge who holds Crow for trial. He is described as owning all space and being stronger than hope, love, or life. Yet elsewhere, life and Crow are both described as overcoming and outlasting Death.
God appears as having created Adam and Eve. At later points, Crow creates a series of gods that all leave his control.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve, from the Bible, both appear in the poems. At one point, Eve is portrayed as Adam's Heaven, and she is then attached to it.
Crow becomes Lucifer at one point. He is described as fallen, white-colored, and an angel who tried to defeat the Sun. In some ways, he is similar to Icarus from Greek myth. Like both Lucifer and Icarus, his defeat is supposed to teach a lesson.
Elephant appears and is torn apart by hyenas who carry pieces of him to different hells. He is resurrected and remembers and learns from his mistakes.
The Hag by the river is very elderly, and she is carried by Crow while she questions him about love. When they reach the other side, she has become a beautiful young woman.
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