In "Crow Improvises" (text version), the protagonist conjoins a list of disparate objects, where each pair of objects ignites a spark.

Putting aside the symbolic meaning of each object, it is clear to me what each object is - except for one:

There was this man
Who took the sun in one hand, a leaf in the other -
The spark that jumped burned out his name.
So he took his lavender-bag ancestors under one arm
And his twisting dog under the other -
The spark that flash-thumped fused his watch of all things,
And left a black orifice instead of a time-sense.

Considering that:

  • A "lavender bag" is a kind of sachet.
  • "lavender-bag" is used here as an adnoun for "ancestors".

What could "lavender-bag ancestors" mean?

1 Answer 1


It popped up to me that it could be a typical Hughesean macabre way of referring to the protagonist's ancestors' cremation remains, put into a sachet bag.

This interpretation suits well to the refraining chorus of burned up objects, and also with those two lines that refer to mourning and burial:

The spark that banged burned out his weeper.
So he leaned one hand on a gravestone

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