Macaw And Little Miss

In a cage of wire-ribs
The size of a man's head, the macaw bristles in a staring
Combustion, suffers the stoking devils of his eyes.
In the old lady's parlour, where an aspidistra succumbs
To the musk of faded velvet, he hangs in clear flames,
    Like a torturer's iron instrument preparing
    With dense slow shudderings of greens, yellows, blues,
        Crimsoning into the barbs:

    Or like the smouldering head that hung
In Killdevil's brass kitchen, in irons, who had been
Volcano swearing to vomit the world away in black ash,
And would, one day; or a fugitive aristocrat
From some thunderous mythological hierarchy, caught
    By a little boy with a crust and a bent pin,
    Or snare of horsehair set for a song-thrush,
        And put in a cage to sing.

    The old lady who feeds him seeds
Has a grand-daughter. The girl calls him 'Poor Polly', pokes fun.
'Jolly Mop.' But lies under every full moon,
The spun glass of her body bared and so gleam-still
Her brimming eyes do not tremble or spill
    The dream where the warrior comes, lightning and iron,
    Smashing and burning and rending towards her loin:
        Deep into her pillow her silence pleads.

    All day he stares at his furnace
With eyes red-raw, but when she comes they close.
'Polly. Pretty Poll', she cajoles, and rocks him gently.
She caresses, whispers kisses. The blue lids stay shut.
She strikes the cage in a tantrum and swirls out:
    Instantly beak, wings, talons crash
    The bars in conflagration and frenzy,
        And his shriek shakes the house.

by Ted Hughes

Comments (1)

What Is Killdevil's brass kitchen? What is Kildevil? or who?