Ted Hughes – “Crow’s Song about God”

Ted Hughes – “Crow’s Song about God”

Somebody is sitting
Under the gatepost of heaven
Under the lintel
On which are written the words: “Forbidden to the living.”
A knot of eyes, eyeholes, lifeless, in the life-shape
A rooty old oak-stump, aground in the ooze
Of some putrid estuary,
Snaggy with amputations,
His fingernails broken and bitten,
His hair vestigial and purposeless, his toenails useless and deformed,
His blood filtering between
In the coils of his body, like the leech of life
In a slime and ochre pond
Under the smouldering collapse of a town dump,
His brain a hacked ache, a dull flint,
His solar plexus crimped in his gut, hard,
A plastic carnation
In a gutter puddle
Outside the registry office –
Somebody
Sitting under the gatepost of heaven

Head fallen forward
Like the nipped head of somebody strung up to a lamp-post
With a cheese-wire, or an electric flex,
Or with his own blet,
Trousers round his ankles,
Face gutted with shadows, like a village gutted with bombs,
Weeping plasma,
Weeping whisky,
Weeping egg-white,
He has been choked with raw steak it hangs black over his chin,
Somebody
Propped in the gateway of heaven
Clinging to the tick of his watch
Under a dream muddled as vomit
That he cannot vomit, he cannot wake up to vomit,
He only lifts his head and lolls it back
Against the gatepost of heaven

Like a broken sunflower
Eyesockets empty
Stomach laid open
To the inspection of the stars
The operation unfinished
(The doctors ran off, there was some other emergency)
Sweat cooling on his temples
Hands hanging – what would be the use now
Of lifting them?
They hang
Clumps of bloodclot, varicose and useless
As afterbirths –

But God sees nothing of this person
His eyes occupied with His own terror
As He mutters
My Saviour is coming,
He is coming, who does not fear death,
He shares his skin with it,
He gives it his cigarettes,
He cuts up its food, he feeds it like a baby,
He keeps it warm he cherishes it
In the desolations of space,
He dresses it up in his best, he calls it his life –

He is coming.

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