Picasso ~ Woman with a Crow 1904

picasso_Woman_with_a_Crow_1904Picasso, woman with a crow 1904

Crow Blacker Than Ever

When God, disgusted with man,
Turned towards heaven,
And man, disgusted with God,
Turned towards Eve,
Things looked like falling apart.

But Crow Crow
Crow nailed them together,
Nailing heaven and earth together-

So man cried, but with God's voice.
And God bled, but with man's blood.

Then heaven and earth creaked at the joint
Which became gangrenous and stank-
A horror beyond redemption.

The agony did not diminish.

Man could not be man nor God, God.

The agony




Crying: "This is my Creation,"

Flying the black flag of himself.

~Ted Hughes

(*For my friend Joe)

 Crow Tree image courtesy of  Spadoman Round Circle Blog


  1. I've been back here and read this poem a number of times. So many bits and pieces I can relate to. Crow seems to be the one that can bring it all down, yet Crows spread seeds just like the Chickadees. You just don't see the Chickadees eating road kill. This inspired somempeotic work at my place. I sincerely thank you for thinking of me and the back and forth.
    Crow is not one of my totem animals that I know of. These totems do change from time to time. Everything changes as it all stays the same. I wonder why I have been thinking about the Crow so much lately.


  2. I fell in love with this poem, Joe. Ted Hughes is one of my favorites. He has about 4 different crow poems. I admit that the image and poem are a bit at odds although Eve is mentioned, but Picasso's painting is so full of the woman's love and compassion for the crow who is generally not a beloved bird. In my mind, at least in this poem, the crow is a Trickster and a very good one. I love the last line, " Flying the Black flag of himself." He recognizes that his trick of nailing heaven and earth together has worked (I think that there is an obvious reference to the crucifixion here) and he grins and cries at the same time as he understands fully the weight of the human condition.
    Peace and Light,

  3. I've never seen this particular Picasso before and it speaks to me in a way that his work rarely does. I think it's because of the wisdom/power/shadow side attributes of the raven or crow.

  4. I like that very much, Meri. Wisdom, power and shadow. It speaks to me too.
    I found this wonderful synopsis of the Trickster figure in a Jungian lexicon
    that I have just after looking at your comment here. Here it is. I think it
    fits quite well with Ted Hughes' poem:

    [The trickster] is a forerunner of the saviour . . . . He is both subhuman
    and superhuman, a bestial and divine being, whose chief and most alarming
    characteristic is his unconsciousness.["On the Psychology of the
    Trickster-Figure," CW 9i, par. 472],

    The so-called civilized man has forgotten the trickster. He remembers him
    only figuratively and metaphorically, when, irritated by his own ineptitude,
    he speaks of fate playing tricks on him or of things being bewitched. He
    never suspects that his own hidden and apparently harmless shadow has
    qualities whose dangerousness exceeds his wildest dreams.

    After reading Ted Hughes poem , seeing Picasso's image and hearing the song
    Joe made up for his grandchildren, I think that I am beginning to love the
    crow more and more every day!



  5. i have never seen this painting before either! love it. the gesture and complete intimacy of this woman and crow.
    love your honoring of joe, and this... " flying the black flag of himself"
    maybe embracing crow is the acceptance of our darker side. doing this, we will find wholeness, finding wholeness we will fly into the heart of god.

  6. Rebecca,
    Such a lovely insight. Reading it made my morning so bright. Thank you!

  7. Hi Noelle,
    Thank you for your special words about my shrine for Amy.
    So I came to your blog to get to know you a little better.
    I saw The Women and the Crow- for the first time, and then I read the poem.
    And I thought...I have no idea what to comment on, I felt it was beyond my understanding. Until I read your reply, which you stated so eloquently.
    Thanks for sharing your insight on it. I am a nurse, my patients are amongst
    the unlovelies, alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill. I try to show them the love compassion, and dignity they deserve. In a sense, my unbeloved crows.

  8. A shocking poem. It really gets to the heart of the matter of what can happen to us when we stray from what is good.

  9. Dear Jan,
    Thank you for your insightful comment. I am a counseling psychology student
    working on my thesis. I did my traineeship work with men in rehab. I loved
    all of them. I led a group of 8 men in the evenings and had individual
    clients. I miss them terribly. I have a friend who is a psych nurse who
    works with your population. He is an amazing soul. You do wonderful work.
    Yours is the work of mercy and compassion.
    Blessings and light!

  10. I love this Noelle, it's so powerful.

    I’m passing on to you a blog award I recently received. I hope you are pleased to be the recipient of The Stylish Blogger Award. You can find out about it by visiting my blog at http://www.uponhaliburtonhill.blogspot.com/


  11. I found some rather amazing insights on this poem that I thought I would share. We studied Paul Radin's book on The Trickster when I was at Pacifica. Here is one.
    Paul Radin, an authority on the Trickster Cycles of the North American Indians, describes Trickster as being:

    ...at one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver
    and negator, he who dupes others and is always duped
    himself. He wills nothing consciously. At all times he is
    constrained to behave as he does from impulses over which
    he has no control. He knows neither good or evil yet he is
    responsible for both. He possesses no values, moral or
    social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet
    through his actions all values come into being ...
    Laughter, humour and irony permeate everything Trickster
    does ... he is primarily an inchoate being of undetermined
    proportions, a figure foreshadowing the shape of man35.

    Here is the counterpart of Hughes' Crow, who, laughing, singing and eating, displays his supreme egotism by "Flying the black flag of himself" ('Crow Blacker than Ever', C p.69) through the havoc and horror which he has helped to create.

  12. And here is another from the same discussion of Hughes poem. I don't normally do this but I thought it was so interesting and anything that talks about archetypes and tricksters fascinates me.

    Trickster has never been restricted to one society. In European countries he appears in the guise of Jester or Fool, and his roots in the human psyche are deep. Alan Garner has collected Trickster stories from many countries in his book The Guizer and he writes:

    If we take the elements from which our emotions are built
    and give them separate names such as Mother, Hero, Father,
    King, Child, Queen, the element that I think marks most of
    us is that of the Fool. It is where our humanity lies. For
    the Fool is the advocate of uncertainty: he is at once
    creator and destroyer, bringer of help and harm. He draws
    a boundary for chaos, so that we can make sense of the
    rest. He is the shadow that shapes the light. Psychology
    calls him Trickster. I have called him Guizer.
    Guizer is the proper word for an actor in a mumming play.
    He is comical, grotesque, stupid, cunning, ambiguous. He
    is sometimes part animal, and always part something else.
    The something else is what is so special. He is the
    dawning godhead in Man36.

    In these quotations from Radin and Garner we can see the characteristics of Hughes' Crow and his connection with Man, but the psychological implications of Crow's character are broader still. Radin writes that the Trickster cycle "represents our efforts to deal with the problem of growing up": that it is a "speculum mentis wherein is depicted man's struggle with himself and with a world into which he had been thrust without his volition and consent ... an attempt by man to solve his problems inward and outward"37.


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