"Hawk Roosting" is a poem by Ted Hughes, one of the 20th century's most prominent poets. In the poem, taken from Hughes's second collection, Lupercal, a hawk is given the power of speech and thought, allowing the reader to imagine what it's like to inhabit the instincts, attitudes, and behaviors of such a creature. The hawk has an air of authority, looking down on the world from its high vantage point in the trees and feeling like everything belongs to it. The poem is particularly keen to stress the way that violence, in the hawk's world at least, is not some kind of moral wrong—but a part of nature. "Hawk Roosting" is one of a large number of poems in which Hughes explores the animal world.
I sit in ...
... kills and eat.
The convenience of ...
... for my inspection
My feet are ...
... in my foot
Or fly up, ...
... off heads -
The allotment of ...
... assert my right:
The sun is ...
... things like this.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
A Reading by Hughes — Hughes reads the poem in his powerful Yorkshire accent.
Plath and Hughes Interviewed — A fascinating discussion with Ted Hughes and the American poet (and Hughes's wife) Sylvia Plath.
More Poems and Biography — Resources from the Poetry Foundation on Hughes and his work.
Ted Hughes at the British Library — More resources and a biography of Ted Hughes, from the British Library.
A Documentary about Hughes — A BBC show about Hughes' life and work.
1I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
2Inaction, no falsifying dream
3Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
4Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.
5The convenience of the high trees!
6The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray
7Are of advantage to me;
8And the earth's face upward for my inspection.
9My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
10It took the whole of Creation
11To produce my foot, my each feather:
12Now I hold Creation in my foot
13Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly -
14I kill where I please because it is all mine.
15There is no sophistry in my body:
16My manners are tearing off heads -
17The allotment of death.
18For the one path of my flight is direct
19Through the bones of the living.
20No arguments assert my right:
21The sun is behind me.
22Nothing has changed since I began.
23My eye has permitted no change.
24I am going to keep things like this.