The poem "Hurt Hawks" by Robinson Jeffers is about a red-tailed hawk whose wing is so badly hurt that he'll never be able to fly again. Two lines of this poem are as follows:

The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head

Why "death the redeemer"? What does it mean to call death a "redeemer" in this context? Why was this particular word chosen - is it a reference to something else, like Christ the Redeemer for example?

1 Answer 1


I think it's quite intentional that redeemer echoes "Christ the Redeemer", when two lines later the poem states "The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful". Redeem in the Christian religious sense usually means salvation (eg wiktionary), ie, to save. The narrator saves the hawk from pain and misery.

The poem has its basis in a real injured hawk looked after by Jeffers' son in the 1920s. Coincidentally, that means the poem was being written at the same time the Cristo Redentor was being built.

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