Lying In A Hammock At William Duffy's Farm In Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

by James Arlington Wright

Comments (2)

Lazy Reader: Admit it. You read too quickly. You were lazy. Weak. How pleasing to think of last year's horses, a bronze butterfly, cowbells in the ravine, How startling, the poem's last line. 'I have wasted my life.' Is that poetry? Sounds like prose, rhetoric, a declarative sentence. Sounds like telling, not showing. Try the poem again. But this time, don't read. Lie in the hammock.
Wonderful, I first heard this on radio bbc 7, an arresting and peaceful poem, read in a voice beautifully in tune with its meaning. In the final line, sudden even abrupt as a self judgement can be when measuring against a perfection in nature, he (as we) are confronted with the tragedy of our existence; an animal which knows it is dying can never match such a perfection. Contrast this with similiar work by Edwin Muir also.