Let's look at the poem verse by verse. For a Hughes poem, it is surprisingly literal.
The Laburnum top is silent, quite still
In the afternoon yellow September sunlight,
A few leaves yellowing, all its seeds fallen.
The poet describes a Laburnum tree. It is still on an autumn afternoon, the leaves getting ready to fall.
Till the goldfinch comes, with a ...
Ted Hughes' Crow cycle is a series of interlinked poems which can be understood, as a whole, to be a folkloric cycle inspired by the Christian tradition. When doing readings, Hughes would introduce this with a spoken word monologue sometimes called The Quarrel in Heaven in which God creates the cosmos and Crow becomes God's companion, seeking to understand ...
Caveat that this is speculative rather than authoritative...
In this poem Hughes clearly relates some of the birds to his own memories in the earlier lines and it is usually clear what kind of occurrence he is recalling, a swallow in a cave, a bluetit dodging past a washing line…, the action of the bird is clearly described. But in this set of four lines ...
@DukeZhou correctly referred me to Eliot's Four Quartets. After reading it thoroughly, I think that the passage quoted on the question refers to the following lines of the last part of the third quartet - The Dry Salvages:
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
Simone Biles just made history this week, and pictures of her performance made me think.
Look at her saluting:
Now look at an upended ship (that's a painting of the Titanic, made by Filson Young):
These postures look pretty similar, aren't they? The body is all stretched up, impressively lengthened.
Now, Hughes maybe didn't have a gymnast salute in mind, ...
After thinking of it for a while, I'd like to shed some poetic light on it.
1. Similiar usage
I got reminded of another similiar usage of the "de-" prefix in another Ted Hughes' Crow poem, called "Crow's Account of St. George":
[...] He refrigerates an emptiness,
Decreates all to outer space [...]
The word "Decreates" is Hughes' neologism, using the ...
By Eliot's later work, this is almost certainly referring to Four Quartets, Eliot's most post-modern poem.
See: T. S. Eliot bibliography > Poetry
If you've read a lot of Eliot, there is a great deal of evolution between Prufrock (1917) and the Quartets (1940-43). Rather than attempting a breakdown of the differences between the Wasteland (1921) and the ...
The Oxford English Dictionary says:
heave of the sea: the force exerted by the swell of the sea in quickening, retarding, or altering a vessel’s course.
So the ship was heaved by the sea and this caused the woman to fall, perhaps when she was walking along the gangplank to or from the jetty.
What have the moon and the sun to do with it? These celestial ...
‘Dewball’ is rare, but means ‘dewdrop’ as you guessed. Your first linked example is:
I looked upon you when the April moon
Sprinkled your forms with light, and the dewball lay
All night upon the branch
Henry Alford (1835). ‘The School of the Heart’.
and here’s another example, found on Google Books:
They can learn for themselves that dewball-...
Crow Communes is a parody of the Christian rite of communion, where the celebrants consume bread and wine and believe that it either represent or mystically becomes the flesh and blood of Christ. In the poem Crow literally eats a piece of God.
The Crow poems are a cycle, and it's worth considering what has come before this ghastly communion. God has been ...
I don't think Crow is the subject of a judicial scene. The title "Examination at the Womb-Door" suggests that Crow is being tested before he can be born. The last line, "Pass, Crow," reveals that Crow has passed the test and is able to pass the gate into birth.
The questions, then, aren't mocking or moral in nature. They are existential. ...
One of the meanings of “furnace” is:
furnace, n. 3. A closed fireplace for heating a building by means of hot-air or hot-water pipes
Oxford English Dictionary.
(This apparatus is more commonly known as a “boiler”.)
So Hughes’ image is of intestines being packed in the abdomen like hot water pipes in a boiler.
I think the most plausible way to make sense of ...
It's an example of emphasis by repetition.
A major theme of the Crow cycle is how empirical methods of understanding the cosmos are doomed to failure in a spiritual sense. It doesn't matter how well science untangles the mysteries of nature: it brings humanity no nearer to being able to deal with the big questions of life and death.
Owl's song is an ...
Here’s how I understand these lines. I’ve added punctuation and put some plausible elisions in brackets to clarify the sense and syntax. I’ve resolved the paradox in the second line by taking “face upwards” to be literal and “face downwards” to be metaphorical.
He abandoned his grin to them, his grimace [too].
In his face-upwards body, he lay [as if] ...
‘Dark simple curtain’ is a metaphor for death: a curtain shuts out the light, and comes down at the end of a performance. ‘Simple’ means ‘uncomplicated’ but also has an archaic sense of ‘medicine’, which could allude to the idea of death as a cure for all ills.
The difficult bit is ‘natural economy’. The post suggests that it alludes to the price of ...
The image in this line is a synecdoche: it is not the ship itself that is saluting as it goes down, but its captain (or officers, or crew). The comparison to a “stuntman” indicates that we are to imagine the event taking place in a movie: as the model of the ship’s upper works disappears under the surface of the water tank in the studio’s back lot, it is the ...
I continued researching to better understand what did Hughes had in mind when writing this poem.
It may be that these lines are a sly parody of an Eliot's paragraph in Four Quartets. You can read about it in my other answer, but in short:
Eliot refers to the Incarnation (which is a concept closely related to the Communion rite) as a fundamental event, an &...