Monday, 3 September 2012

Hawk – a poem by: Keki Daruwalla – An Analysis

Daruwalla’s poem ‘Hawk’ has an interesting interplay of perspective. Her poem begins in the first person where the poet recounts seeing a hawk. The first stanza has an almost primitive aggression where the predatory aspects of the hawk are capitulated. The recurrent image is that of a bird filled with hatred that swoops down on its prey without mercy. This is the nature of a hawk but if this image is disturbing then the domesticated hawk that falls under man’s shadow is a monster created by man solely for his own purposes.   

“The tamed one is worse, for he is touched by man.
Hawking is turned to a ritual, the predator’s
passion honed to an art;”

Man is shown to be crueler than the hawk for by nature a hawk is a predator that must kill to eat but man makes the hawk kill for his own pleasure and diversion which is a pervasion of what the hawk must do. And this is not the end of it; a captured hawk is at first blinded. Its eyes are sewn up and bit by bit the stitches are removed. The pain and such perverted treatment are enough to make a devil of a saint so it is not surprising that the hawk when allowed to hunt take out all its hate on its prey and shows no mercy for it get none. Thus, the domesticated hawk is even more formidable than one from the wild.
The third stanza is a haunting depiction of a hunt where a mother hawk teaches her son to hunt. They chase after a hare and since they cannot kill it at once they swoop down repeatedly tearing at its flesh. In the fourth stanza we have the domesticated hawk speaking out. it is again a first person perspective but it is the hawk speaking and what is more terrible is that many a human too has the same agenda the hawk charts out. Does this mean civilized or domesticated man is the worst of all predators?

“They can’t kill him in one fell swoop.
But each time the talons cart away
a patch of ripped fur.
He diminishes one talon-morsel at a time.”    

Just like the cut-throat modern world where the stronger crush the weaker, the hawk filled with hate sets out to kill its prey. Many a time people’s experiences embitter them so much that they in turn begin to prey on people who once resembled what they went out to seek. The hawk is not merely a domesticated hawk; it is a killer with the voice of a man who is so filled with apathy for life that he sees no pain in hurting others. The hawk is a metaphor “as people did to me so I shall now do to them’.

“But I am learning how to spot the ones
crying for the right to dream, the right to flesh,”
“trained for havoc,
my eyes focused on them
like the sights of a gun.”

“During the big drought which is surely going to come
the doves will look up for clouds, and it will rain hawks.”


  1. Hawk by Daruwalla is one of those poems written in the annals of Indian poetry in English which deal with the hawk, its nature, instinct and behaviour; a bird of prey, bringing to our memory the Tennysonian line, nature red in tooth and claw, the Blakian duality between the innocent lamb and the bloody tiger and the Wordsworthian dictum, what man has made of man? The poem one in the line of others, The Tiger, Pied Beauty and so on, tells of the contrast and contradiction. Daruwalla, a poet of tragedy and tragic vision, he cannot let it go, as the Shelleyian wild, tameless and swift is the case study of his. What it is dark will remain it dark unto the last, is the thing to be taken into consideration. We do not if Daruwalla has studied the poems of Ted Hughes or not, but something like that of his poetry is readily available in him. The other thing of deliberation is this that Daruwalla as a poet is a Parsi and the Parsis like to place their dead on the Towers of Silence as for the birds of prey to circle over, perch and feed upon to cleanse the flesh. While discussing the poem, the Divine Scheme of Things, the Plan and its Execution, the eco-balance and survival of the fittest come to the fore. There was a time when the hunters used to think of training and using it for hunting, but now the number shave fallen miserably and these are rarely sighted, maybe it that one day these go extinct, but that is not the question here. It is a poem of a wild bird, the hawk, swopping down and taking for a kill; of the glare of the eyes and a mind-set with the desire and dream of hunting and killing. The ruthlessness and ferocity of it; the bestiality and brutality; the wrath and vengeance, is clear to us all, as it thrives on its vision and mission of life and it is natural that the child of it too will be the same, as we cannot nature. But the one used by the hunter to keep as a trap is the worst of all.

  2. Keki N. Daruwalla is a poet not a poetess, use of 'her' is wrong.

  3. It was very helpful.But yes Daruwalla is a poet and not a poetess.

  4. Can I get access to the text online? It's nowhere.

  5. I need poem lines immediately