Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 318
Crow (full title: Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow) is a 1970 book written by English poet and children's book author Edward James Hughes a.k.a Ted Hughes. It was published as a collection of poems or a poetic sequence, and it is considered to be his most important, most controversial and most influential written work in his literary career. Hughes wrote Crow when he was in a really dark place, following the deaths of his wife, famed author Sylvia Plath, and later the deaths of his domestic partner Assia Wevill and her daughter Shura.
One of the main themes of the poems is religion or Christianity. Hughes wrote his piece as a critical commentary on Christianity and the teachings about God and his greatest creation—humans, or, as Hughes says, Men. Crow, in this case, becomes God's companion who attempts to improve God's Creation. At the same time, Crow is on a search for his own female Creator. Another common theme that Hughes incorporates in this concept is gender and sexuality. According to several analysts, Hughes identifies with the character of Crow.
Hughes also takes inspiration from folklore and mythology, more specifically from stories about the popular mythological character known as the Trickster; this creature, be it a god, a goddess, a human, an animal, or even a spirit, plays the role of both creator and destroyer and hero and anti-hero, as he/she/it unapologetically uses his/her/its power, wisdom, knowledge and intellect to play tricks on people and disrupt God's work and the natural flow of events. Hughes used mythology to explain death, rebirth, life, and human nature and the complexity of it.
Finally, Hughes incorporates the theme of nature, its energy, and humans' connection to it. He masterfully connects this to the ultimate spiritual awakening and development of all people, and alludes back to his poetic spiritual journey through life.