Ted Hughes and my “Pigeon”

Ted Hughes first made his name with startling poems exhibiting a unique vision of the beauty and violence of nature.  His “Hawk Roosting”: “. . . I hold creation in my foot/Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly – /I kill where I please because it is all mine/There is no sophistry in my body:/My manners are tearing off heads – /. . .  His “Thrushes” have a “. . . bullet and automatic purpose” he compares to Mozart’s brain.  His “Pike”: “. . . Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin . . .”

I was waiting for a bus at Huntingdon Bus Station one morning, when a particularly portly pigeon suddenly flew down and joined me.  The bus was late, as usual, so I had ample time to observe the pigeon’s manoeuvres.  I’m not foolhardy enough to ask for the resulting poem to be compared with Ted Hughes’ great verses; but I hope it has some merit, in its own way.



Loud “clack!” of wings
announces landing.
This portly gauleiter
wastes no time;
asserts authority
upon all in its ambit.


Beady eye fixed upon
nearest crumb.  Waddles
plump body towards it.
Jabs beak, impatient;
tosses aside the less
than satisfactory.
Muscles gravid with
purpose, moves
to the next crumb.


What ancestral dreams
sing through its veins?
Dim memories of forbears,
wings beating steadily;
metal canister of grave
import on ankle.  Navigating
home, unerring, by lie of land.


All this now suppressed
to immediate task.  This
inveterate yea-sayer;
will to power evident
in sheer strength of  neck muscles.
There WILL be food!
There WILL be food!
Eyes gleaming with
Zarathustrean zeal.



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