Grief is the thing with feathers

Thing with Features blog

Grief is the thing with feathers (30cms x 40cms charcoal and pastel 2016)

Recently I read Max Porter’s wonderful work of fiction, Grief is the Thing with Feathers. It concerns the efforts of a Ted Hughes scholar and his two young sons to come to terms with the death of their wife and mother. Grief is personified by a crow.

I was inspired to draw this when touched, gently,  by a grief of my own. Grief doesn’t have to be about a death: it can be about a loss of a friendship or love, even about a place or the passing of time. Just as one can be lonely in a crowd one can feel grief when surrounded by life.

I covered a piece of paper with charcoal and soft pastel dust and worked it in with my fingers (wonderful!). I then started to carve the drawing out of the darkness with an eraser, white pastel and a black charcoal pencil. Soon the image of the Hughes scholar and his grief emerged.

Interestingly the Emily Dickinson poem, from which the title of this wonderful piece of writing is taken, begins:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all …

Do read Max Porter’s book. Its 120 widely-spaced pages contain every emotion you can think of and the crow is surely one of fiction’s great comic characters.



28 thoughts on “Grief is the thing with feathers

  1. You pack so much expression in a short post. The book description and recommendation, the short essay on forms of grief, the inclusion of the great Emily Dickinson poem and of course the wonderful drawing. Having not read the book I see the character allowing grief to be ever present in his mind while still seeing the world through hopeful eyes. At least that is what I see that you captured in your drawing. Oh, and thanks also for sharing your process.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it Michael. Keep them coming. I am inspired to read both the book and Emily’s poems but am surrounded by unfinished stuff to embark right now on more diversions. Hopefully I will remember your post when the tide subsides.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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