Learning check

Written assignment: translation

Translate the following text into English.

No study aids. 

Høgen sidder og hviler. Den lider af storhedsvanvid. Den tror, at hele verden er til for dens skyld, at den er skabelsens højdepunkt. Den mener, at det er den, der får verden til at dreje rundt, og den dræber uden at føle nogen form for anger, da den hævder, at dens væremåde er at rive hoveder af.


Wider contexts

1. Critical context: critical comment on the poem

In his book Poetry 1900 to1975 (Faber and Faber, 1979), the editor George Macbeth writes the following about Ted Hughes’ poem “Hawk Roosting”:


“HAWK ROOSTING. This is the monologue of a hawk sitting in the top of a wood. Hughes has said, however, that he had in mind the personality of someone like Hitler and the poem is best interpreted as a remarkable insight into the nature of Fascist psychology. At the same time it never gets away from the essential nature of the bird which is the outward subject of the poem. The headlong violence and the tensed arrogance of the poem is enormously exciting and something quite new in English poetry. One has to turn back towards Jacobean drama for this kind of uninhibited expression of villainy.”


Does this critical comment enhance your understanding of the poem? Discuss.


Wider contexts

2. Literary context: comparison of other text by a different author: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Eagle”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was educated at Cambridge University. He was considered the greatest poet of Victorian England, and he was made Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1850 after Wordsworth died. Among his best known poems today are In Memoriam (1850), a collection of poems mourning the death of his friend Arthur Hallam, and “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854) about the Crimean War.


a) Look at a picture of an eagle and read the following poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson  



           The Eagle: A Fragment

                He clasps the crag with crooked hands;                 crag  fremspringende, stejl klippe

                Close to the sun in lonely lands,

                Ring’d with the azure world he stands.                  ’azure  bright blue



                The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;        

                He watches from his mountain walls,

                And like a thunderbolt he falls.                              thunderbolt  tordenkile           



b) What is the poet’s attitude to the eagle?

c) What, if anything, does the eagle represent to you?

d) Write an essay where you compare “Hawk Roosting” and “The Eagle”. You must include the following points in your essay:

- the tenses used in the two poems

- the use of pronouns

- the use of rhyme

- the attitude to the birds expressed in the two poems

- the use of words not normally associated with birds.


Wider contexts

3. Literary context: comparison of other text by a different author: William Blake, “The Tyger”

William Blake (1757-1827) was an artist, printmaker, poet, philosopher, revolutionary and fierce social critic. He believed passionately in the importance of the imagination, and he called the new industrial England a “land of poverty”, described factories as “dark Satanic Mills”, and he denounced the exploitation, oppression and indoctrination of the poor by the ruling classes and the church. At 14 he was apprenticed as an engraver, and as a young man he worked as an engraver and illustrator. He published his poems as integrated works of poetic and visual art, etching words and drawings on copper plates, and colouring the individual prints by hand. He called this process “Illuminated Printing”.


Many of Blake’s most popular and most accessible poems are found in two collections: Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794). The complete 1794 collection was called Songs of Innocence and Experience and was subtitled “Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul”. A number of poems in Songs of Experience are counterpart-pieces to poems in Songs of Innocence. Many images that illustrate the poems are available online in The Blake Archive: they vary in colour and appearance as they are photographs of the original plates in the various copies of the book.

There is a chart of some of the differences between Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience here.



1. What words do you associate with

a) tiger   

b) “burning bright” 

c) “the forests of the night”   


2. Find the odd one out:

    horror          fear               strength        dread            terror            awe   

    The Tyger


    Tyger Tyger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night;
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare seize the fire?


    And what shoulder, & what art.
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?


    What the hammer? what the chain,
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp,
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?


    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And water’d heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?


    Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
    In the forests of the night:
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?



    Tyger  tiger

    i’mmortal  udødelig

    frame  lave, konstruere

    fearful  skrækindjagende, uhyggelig

    symmetry  symmetrisk form, (her) evt. skønhed

    deeps  dybder; underjordiske steder

    thine  your

    he  he who created the tiger

    aspire  flyve højt op ligesom Ikaros. Icarus (Greek myth.) escaped from the labyrinth of Crete with wings attached by wax, but flew too near the sun. The wax melted and he drowned in the Aegean

    what the hand  what hand was it that dared

    seize the fire  gribe fat om, evt. stjæle ilden ligesom Prometheus. Prometheus (Greek myth.) was the brother of Atlas. He stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. In punishment Zeus chained him to a rock and sent an eagle or vulture by day to eat out his liver, which was restored by night

    what shoulder  perhaps a reference to Atlas, who as punishment for leading a battle against the gods was ordered to carry the sky on his shoulders

    art  snilde

    twist  sno

    sinew  sene

    dread  skræmmende, frygtelig

    what dread hand ? & what dread feet  what dread hand formed your dread feet

    furnace  smelteovn

    anvil  ambolt; an iron block on which a blacksmith puts pieces of metal before shaping them with a hammer

    grasp  greb

    clasp  gribe om, holde fast om

    stars  the good angels who threw down their spears and wept when they were defeated by Satan in their defense of heaven


    Wider contexts

    4. Literary context: Comparison of other text by a different author: William Wordsworth’s view of nature

    Compare the view of nature expressed in “Hawk Roosting” and Wordsworth’s view of nature as, for example, expressed in “The Tables Turned” on page 204 or “My Heart Leaps Up” in “The Tables Turned” post-reading wider contexts 2.


    Wider contexts

    5. Literary context: Comparison of other text by a different author: William Shakespeare, Macbeth

    In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Act IV, scene 1, ll. 146 -152, Macbeth says


    “From this moment

    The very firstlings of my heart shall be

    The firstlings of my hand. And even now,

    To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:

    The castle of Macduff I will surprise,

    Seize upon Fife; give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword

    His wife, his babies, and all unfortunate souls

    That trace him in his line.


    firstlings  første indfald

    seize upon  indtage 

    give to the edge of the sword  kill

    trace him in his line  der er i familie med ham


    Do the Hawk and Macbeth speak the same language? Support your point of view by referring to the text.