Appreciating ‘A Crow that Came for the Chickens’
The poem ‘A Crow that Came for the Chickens’ by John Foulcher describes a deadly encounter between a crow and a rooster. The crow, a predator, has come for the chickens but is brought to the ground and injured by the cock. Foulcher explores the brutality of nature through this reversal of the natural order and the subsequent suffering of the crow. The responder becomes engaged in the narrative tragedy of conflict and cruelty.
The responder is immediately invited to visualise the action through the use of the adverb ‘Suddenly’, but the significance of the episode is minimised by describing the event as ‘a disturbance’. The words ‘the cock and the crow are tangled’ and ‘Dust tumbled’ connote a mundane ordinariness. The alliteration of ‘tangle’ and ‘tumbled’ draw our attention to the ignoble description of the battle. We expect the crow to be victorious and magnificent due to the positive connotations of ‘bird from the sky’ and are surprised that instead it is ‘on its back, wings outstretched’ and now the embodiment of defeat. The predatory nature of the bird is conveyed by the metaphor that describes the bird as having ‘target eyes rimmed in blood’ and the simile ‘beak like open secateurs’. It is clear that this bird is dangerous and in fact it ‘threatens’ the persona. The language chosen is highly evocative and emotive and paints an image of a cruel and efficient killing machine. At this point the responder does not feel any sympathy for the crow. Throughout the poem Foulcher draws our attention to the positive qualities of the crow through the use of an extended metaphor in which the crow’s qualities are compared to strong, durable metals — ‘Its iron sheen’, ‘steel-sprung neck, its steel talons’. The comparison of the subject to these metals suggests that the crow is warrior-like and indestructible. Foulcher uses sibilance and repetition within the metaphor to emphasise to the responder the crow’s innate...
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