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Harris Hawk

by Harris 

Posted: 13 January 2006
Word Count: 84
Summary: This was a working bird, used for hunting rabbits. Its simple perfection was incongrous as it sat on a perch in the back of its owner's grimey van. This is the first time I will have ever had feedback on my work, which may come across as complete piffle. I would love to know what people think...

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I am beauty and elegance,
Quick, cool and poised.

My Glance
Offers a piercing glimpse of the ancient,
Through unblinking prehistoric eyes.

Each pointed movement
Is guided by many ages of wisdom
Etched into my heart.

I know what I am, no question.
From my stance I watch, I see.
You may try to comprehend me,
To hold these smooth, vulnerable lines
In your eyes,
To feel the power and danger in me.

The bright touch of a razor's edge.

Soft veil,
Subtle savage.

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Comments by other Members

DJC at 08:48 on 14 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Matt, and welcome to the site! I hope you get as much from everyone here as I have so far. I've only been a member a week or so, and it's helped me enormously.

First off, I think the idea you have is an excellent one. There are some fluid rhythms here - I particularly like the 'bright touch of a razor's edge' which scans beautifully. It reminds me quite a lot of Hughes' 'Hawk Roosting', which immediately puts you in illustrious company and means you have a lot to live up to.

And this is where you may struggle. By taking a something that is the subject of one of the most celebrated nature poems of all time, you're always going to be up against it, especially when some of the imagery alludes to Hughes' poem (the 'prehistoric eyes' remind me of 'Now I hold Creation in my foot' - that plus the fact you put it into the first person, which is always going to invite comparison).

So, if I can offer you any advice, it may be to either approach the subject in an entirely different way (look at the difference between Hawk Roosting and Manley-Hopkins' The Windhover as examples - Hughes really did redraw the nature map with his early work), or take another animal and get inside its head. I think this is some of the hardest poetry to do - I tried it once with a Moorhen, and couldn't get into its head, so stuck to my perceptions of it.

A very brave, and at times accomplished, attempt. I look forward to some more of your work.


I notice you're on a free trial - if you're serious about your poetry I would urge you to become a full member, as the advice you get on here is utterly invaluable! Poetry, of all the writing forms, can be one of the loneliest professions, so chatting with others like you is a lifesaver. God I sound like a right billy-no-mates, don't I...

Harris at 18:02 on 16 January 2006  Report this post
Thanks for the comments, this does promise to be a valuable process. Thanks also for the excuse for me to pick up Ted Hughes again for the first time in a long while! (Spent far too much time today absorbed in The Thought-Fox - amazing)

There are similarities between my poem and Hawk Roosting, but I don't think I'd ever read it before.

I wouldn't try to come close to Hughes, but I enjoy his style very much, which I find rich, even dense, yet still naturalistic and approachable (stepping into dangerous territory again?). That is basically what I try to achieve in my work - so maybe it's a good sign!

Harris Hawk began life as a kind of sketch, in prose, (the starting point for most of my work - plenty more remains just that!) which probably explains the general lack of 'structure' (again in common with most of my stuff).

What are your thoughts on using structure (or otherwise) in poetry? This might be a big question, but it often plays on my mind when writing..

Thanks again for the feedback, I really appreciate it.


Cholero at 18:09 on 16 January 2006  Report this post

Far from piffle.


DJC at 18:42 on 16 January 2006  Report this post
I would say that one of the most important things you can do when you learn to write poetry is to experiment with form. Try a sonnet, a villanelle, sticking to pentameter and so on. Get a good poetry book with exercises (John Whitworth's 'Writing Poetry' is pretty comprehensive), and really try to train yourself to write within a tight structure. You won't always write like that, but it's the best way to teach yourself 'from the inside out', as it were. There are lots of writers on this site who haven't done this, and it shows. It's far more effective breaking the rules if you know what the rules are in the first place.

And one other thing - from now on, when you read good poetry (and not just Hughes - look at online mags like Smith's Knoll for example) and you find a poem you like, shamelessly copy its structure, ie stick to its line length and metre. This is a really good way of learning the craft.

Beanie Baby at 07:55 on 18 January 2006  Report this post
Hello again, Beanie here. I really love this piece of work - it has a lovely feel to it and stands out well on its own. I love poems that reflect or portray nature and this one does both really well. Nature is this planet's most powerful source and any poems connected to it will stand the test of time. My own speciality is haiku - which has very close links to nature. Need I say more? Once again, welcome aboard - and I second DJ's opinion - you'd benefit much more if you become a full member.

All the very best.

chris2 at 12:59 on 01 February 2006  Report this post
Matt - This really does work, and the depth of your observation is very apparent. I enjoyed it. You need have no fear about putting work of this standard up for feedback.

I have three punctuation suggestions [] which might improve readability, unless I've misunderstood the sense.

I know what I am, no question[.]

From my stance I watch, I see(,)[.]

Soft veil[,]
Subtle savage.

Hope this is helpful. I agree with the others - join up - it's a good investment!

Harris at 12:36 on 08 February 2006  Report this post
Thanks Chris. Punctuation changes noted and added. It does help the poem to scan.

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