rough-hewn cry of defiance


Senior Member
Hi, everyone.
I need help.

The following excerpt is about a critique of a work (oratorio)of Robert. M. Palmer (American composer, 1915-2010), written by Holmes.

It(=an oratorio) is his largest and most ambitiously conceived work to date. It is a forceful, rough-hewn cry of defiance against tyranny in all forms and, as such, cannot help but move anyone who shares Palmer's views on this subject.

--quoted from "style and reception" at Robert Moffat Palmer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What does rough-hewn cry of defiance mean? Does it a kind of idiom?
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Hi, again.
    I would say it is a kind of mixed-metaphor, typical of the sort of things critics try to do when they have to find words for abstract and emotive topics.

    A cry of defiance is a loud shout to stand up against something. That is straight forward enough.
    Modifying this idea with "rough-hewn" takes us into a different image, like a piece of art or a product that is not finely made, it is roughly cut and not polished.
    This idea then modifies the cry of defiance .. the whole piece of music seems quite rough .. I suppose.
    Last edited:


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Rough-hew can be a verb, used to mean to cut without finishing the surface.

    It is obviously used as a metaphor in your quotation: the oratorio is 'rough' and perhaps jarring, rather than smooth and relaxing.

    There is a well-known speech from Shakespeare's Hamlet: 'There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.' There again, it is used metaphorically. Although we mess up our lives, God still controls everything.



    Senior Member
    Hi, both suzi br and natkretep, thank you for advices!

    Thanks to your kind and profound advices, I understood it! Thank you very much!
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