Two aspects of Hughes’s Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (1970, 1972) have proved hard to swallow for some critics, namely, the book’s language and its imagery, or as Roy Fuller puts it, ‘the pathological violence of its language, its anti-human ideas, its sadistic imagery’ 1 . Fuller points out three things here, although it might be more accurate to speak of Crow’s anti-liberal humanist ideas, assuming that is that Crow has any ideas of its own, which is not certain. In any case, the epithet ‘anti-human’ seems to reflect here only the ideas, or rather ideals, of a certain type of criticism: writing from much the same point of view, Geoffrey Thurley finds Crow ‘a somewhat inhuman, even brutal book, with none of the broad strength of the best of Hughes’s earlier poems. It remains to be seen whether Hughes’s abandonment of a human perspective is ultimately justifiable’ 2 . The abandonment of a ‘human perspective’ in Crow is really no more than the abandonment of the transparent language of a ‘metaphysical’ self, a language that bears no recognition of its material (linguistic, cultural, unconscious) determinants. If the book can be conceived of as a reflective surface, then it is a cracked one, one that fails to give any return on humanist preconceptions, or rather returns them in distorted fashion, in pieces. For the critic anticipating the corroboration of certain literary expectations or ideals, Crow seems to allow of only one response: in Calvin Bedient’s words, ‘Hughes is a total nihilist’, while Crow is ‘the croak of nihilism itself’. 3