Cornelius Eady

Crows in a Strong Wind by Cornelius Eady

‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ appears in the American poet Cornelius Eady’s poetry collection Victims of Latest Dance Craze. This piece captures the crows’ directionless movement in the stormy wind.

‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ is a humorous yet probing poem about love and embarrassment. Oftentimes, lovers get stuck in awkward situations. To make sure the situation does not worsen further, they try to correct their mistakes. During this process, they commit more mistakes that increase their embarrassment. Eady captures this feeling and compares it to the flight of crows in the gust. The crows are none other than the lovers in awkwardness.

Crows in a Strong Wind by Cornelius Eady


‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ is a humorous poem about the crows’ dance in a stormy wind and how it resembles the lovers who are stuck in embarrassing moments.

This poem begins with the imagery of a strong wind. It unsettles the crows sitting on the roof. They cannot hold on to their position for the pressure. Hence they fly away and try to perch on things that come across. In the following lines, Eady likens the crows’ flight to an awkward dance. It appears to be a comic incident to the speaker. Besides, their dance also reminds him of the embarrassing situations occurring while one’s love goes wrong.

You can read the full poem here.

Detailed Analysis

Lines 1-4

Off go the crows from the roof.


Be perched on an oil slick.

‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ does not begin with a reference to the gust. Nor does it appear at any moment in the text. Readers have to anticipate it from the very title. The poem begins with kinesthetic imagery of the strong wind. It makes the crows fly off the roof where they are sitting.

Due to the current, they cannot hold on to the place. This blow of wind can be compared to us facing tough ordeals. Like the crows, we struggle to find the last straw. In the case of these birds, they are so desperate that, the poet thinks, they might perch on an oil slick.

This “oil slick” is a metaphor for critical situations. In the last line, Eady uses irony to convey the opposite. It hints at how vulnerable the birds are during the storm.

Lines 5-8

Such an awkward dance,


Such a tipsy dance,

In the next quatrain, the poet describes their haphazard movement in the air to an awkward dance. It seems to him as if they are dancing. He personifies them in the following lines by using the phrase “spottled-black coats”. Their black feathers are likened to black coats wearing which they seem gentlemanly.

Furthermore, the speaker describes their movement as a “tipsy dance”. It seems as if the crows are drunk heavily. Now, they are trying to move their bodies in the air in amazement. Such a description of the crows’ crisis creates an ironic contrast in the poem. The thing is that they are going through a crisis and the poet is describing it comically.

Lines 9-12

As if they didn’t know where they were.


As the wind reduces them.

Furthermore, Eady details how the crows cannot apprehend what is happening with them. The strong wind makes them so unsettled that they lose track of their flight. They just keep flying in order to survive the blow.

This time the poet uses the term “humorous” instead of “awkward” to depict their dance. It seems as if the speaker feels happy to see their struggle or it can be the opposite. The reason behind the speaker’s happiness is conveyed in the following lines.

The next lines begin with the same word “As”. It is an example of anaphora. Here, the poet talks about how the crows try to set things right as the wind reduces. This scene can be compared to a man struggling through hard times. Like the crows, he tries to cope with the loss after the blow ends.

Lines 13-16

Such a sorrowful dance.


In front of everyone.

The last few lines of ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ clarify why the poet was feeling happy. He is not happy and at the same time a bit sad. These contrasting emotions play an important role in the poem. In the first line of this section, Eady describes the dance as a “sorrowful” one.

At times, lovers also face similar difficulties in a relationship. They commit some silly mistakes. In order to rectify them, they commit another series of mistakes. In this way, things go wrong and multiply the embarrassment. The same applies to the crows struggling in the strong wind.

The last line is separated from the body of the text for an artistic effect. Here, the poet hints at how society looks at our mistakes. When they laugh at our follies, it increases our awkwardness.


This poem is written in free verse. It is told from the perspective of a third-person speaker. The speaker is none other than Cornelius Eady who describes the puzzled flight of crows in string wind. There are a total of four stanzas in the poem. Each stanza consists of four lines, except the last one. The poem ends with a coda. Apart from that, Eady uses end-stopped lines in order to end the sense of lines. Regarding the rhyme scheme, there is not any. The internal rhyming creates a sense of rhyming within the lines. 

Literary Devices

Eady uses the following literary devices in his poem ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’.

  • Enjambment: It occurs in a number of instances. For example, Eady uses this device in the last two lines of the first stanza.
  • Alliteration: It occurs in “crows can’t”, “Such a sorrowful”, etc.
  • Personification: In this piece, Eady personifies the crows and compares them to black-coated gentlemen.
  • Anaphora: It occurs in the last two lines of the third stanza.
  • Irony: The following lines contain this device: “They might as well/ Be perched on an oil slick.”

Historical Context

The poem ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ was published in Cornelius Eady’s poetry collection Victims of Latest Dance Craze. It was published in 1986 and won the Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets. In Cornelius Eady’s poems, readers come across the themes of race and society. His poems also tap into societal issues stemming from racism and class division. In this piece, the poet does not out forward the issue of race. Rather, he humorously talks about human follies, especially that of lovers. He describes it through the metaphors of crows in the gust.


What is the poem ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ about?

Cornelius Eady’s poem ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ is about crows’ haphazard movement in the gust. The scene is used to describe how lovers face awkward moments in their relationships and how they try to come out of the embarrassment.

When was ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’ published?

The poem was first published in 1986 in Cornelius Eady’s book of poetry Victims of Latest Dance Craze.

What type of poem is ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’?

It is a free-verse lyric poem that does not contain a set rhyme scheme or meter. There are a total of three quatrains, a tercet, and a coda at the end.

Who is the speaker of the ‘Crows in a Strong Wind?’

The speaker of this piece is none other than the poet himself. Eady talks in this piece through this poetic persona from an omniscient point of view.

What is the theme of ‘Crows in a Strong Wind?

This poem taps on the themes of embarrassment, relationship, human folly, and stupidity.

Similar Poems

Here is a list of a few poems that similarly revolve around the themes present in Cornelius Eady’s poem ‘Crows in a Strong Wind’.

You can also read about these incredibly funny poems.

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Sudip Das Gupta Poetry Expert
A complete expert on poetry, Sudip graduated with a first-class B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature. He has a passion for analyzing poetic works with a particular emphasis on literary devices and scansion.
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