Lying in a Hammock; A controversial Ending
The poem “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” by James Wright has a very controversial and debatable ending. Throughout the poem, Wright describes what is around him in what seems to be a calm, relaxed tone. He states “Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly, Asleep on the black trunk, Blowing like a leaf in green shadow” (Barnet, Burton and Cain 530) explaining how he is physically relaxed and is noticing all of his surroundings. His tone is rather dreamlike, almost as if he is in a different state of mind. In the last sentence, Wright states “I have wasted my life”, yet is unclear on how so, for the rest of the poem does not really explain why. While many critics think he is saying he wasted his life laying in a hammock and daydreaming all day, I believe just the opposite. I think that Wright is saying he wasted his life being too busy and did not take the time to relax in a hammock and take in the beauty of the nature around him. What I find most intriguing about this poem, is that Wright left it up to the reader to decide how they would like to interpret the ending. A close examination of “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” reveals that he is noticing all of the minute details in the nature around him, and is taking in the scenery and animals. This is not something that someone would do if they were lying in a hammock daydreaming and wasting their life away.
Another way of interpreting this surprising ending is to believe that it means nothing. Thom Gunn states “The final line is perhaps exciting because we are surprised to encounter something so different… but it is certainly meaningless” (Modern American Poetry 1). This point of view is completely different from the other two discussed, for it is saying that the last line has no purpose. Gunn says “The more one searches for an explicit meaning in it, the vaguer it becomes” (Modern...
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