Hawk Roosting Analysis

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"Hawk Roosting” Commentary
The “Hawk Roosting” revolves around one key idea, control. Control is evident through various aspects of the poem and is a key factor of the theme. The theme of this piece being, although we stem from Creation, we are in control of our lives to a great extent due to our divine right of dominance. This idea is symbolized through the literal theme of the hawk’s control over life; “My feet are locked upon the rough bark. It took the whole of Creation to produce my foot, my each feather: Now I hold Creation in my foot”(lines 10-12). The irony of this stanza alone is sufficient enough to determine theme. The hawk’s foot, that took all of Creation to make, is locked upon a tree bark that is also made by Creation. Thus although both the tree and hawk are made by the same forces, the hawk still has control over the tree’s life by putting its foot on the tree’s bark. This theme can be taken to another level and be applied to man, who is symbolized by the powerful, superior hawk. Man is the dominant creation on land and exerts its power and control over other life forms, much like the hawk. Through various stylistic devices, Hughes successfully manages to create an excellent understanding of the theme.

Appointing the hawk as the speaker of the poem has a tremendous impact on effectively displaying theme. Hawks are known to be powerful, majestic, dignified, and superior life forms. Man is also known to have these features; therefore it is easy to draw a parallel between the two. There is such a great similarity between the two to the extent that the reader might think the speaker is a man if not for the title of the poem. Thus by creating such a strong parallel, Hughes effectively takes his theme onto a deeper, more metaphorical level. A significant salient feature of this poem is the use of first person point of view. By using first person point of view Hughes emphasizes the control and power of the hawk; “I kill where I please because it is all mine.” (line 14). The use of personal pronouns such as “I” has such a drastic effect on displaying power and control. The repetition of the personal pronouns in this particular line merely reiterates the hawk’s power and control. If Hughes chose to write in third person point of view, the theme would not have been as clearly exhibited as it is while using first person point of view; “My eye has permitted no change. I am going to keep things like this.” (lines 23-24). By starting these two lines with personal pronouns, Hughes is reiterating the control of the hawk over life. First person point of view makes the reader feel as if the hawk is talking directly to him/her, and the frequent use of pronouns merely adds an extensive amount of control and power to the poem.

“Hawk Roosting” has a very specific and clear order to it. It is composed of six four-line stanzas made up of relatively short sentences. The purpose of having an identical number of lines in each of the stanzas is to strengthen the theme; this form is merely a display of control. Since the poem is written in first person point of view in the voice of the hawk, the reader feels as if he is being talked to by the hawk. Thus by having and orderly and repetitive form, the reader feels as if the hawk is even controlling the poem. There is an element of divine right in the poem (5th stanza), and the fact that there is a specific number of lines per stanza soothes the reader and persuades him into accepting the divine right of the hawk to rule. The control and divine right exhibited through the structure of the poem emphasize the last line of the poem, “I am going to keep things like this”; only the hawk has the power and right to change things. Short sentences were used throughout the poem in order to present bold statements; bold statements are a sign of power. Punctuation plays a key role in this poem. Firstly, some of the periods are used to make the sentences bold, ‘The sun is behind me.” (line 21)....
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