Title: Dark Souls
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: From Software
I’ve been reading through Ted Hughes’ Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (1970) again and I’m glad to report it is just as forceful and gross as it appeared to me several years ago. The collection of poems catalogue the myths of the titular character Crow, a vile, feathered trickster god, part Prometheus, part mystical guide, as he picks apart, explores, and often brutalizes his bleak and jagged surroundings, scrounging up meaning in a biblical and heavy, polluted wasteland covered in tar and skulls. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite books of poetry.
A few excerpts:
From “Crow’s Elephant Totem Song”:
‘At the Resurrection,
The Elephant got himself together with correction
Deadfall feet and toothproof body and bulldozing bones
And completely altered brains
Behind aged eyes, that were wicked and wise.’
From “Crow’s First Lesson”:
‘And Crow retched again, before God could stop him.
And woman’s vulva dropped over man’s neck and tightened.
The two struggled together on the grass.
God struggled to part them, cursed, wept–
Crow flew guiltily off.’
‘The gold melted out of Hercules’ ashes
Is an electrode in Crow’s brain.
Drinking Beowulf’s blood, and wrapped in his hide,
Crow communes with poltergeists out of old ponds.’
From “Crow Blacker than ever”:
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.’
– – –
While playing through Dark Souls, the agony certainly never diminishes. Even the back of the box reads, with no remorse, “PREPARE TO DIE”. There is no glorified battle of good versus evil, no promise of beauty, of wonder, no fun in sight. Only tension, “incredible challenge,” and death. Like Hughes’ poems, there is zero compassion, no light, and at the first sign of humanity and its weakness, the cragged landscape will fold over and swallow all life whole.