Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not Tired of Summer

We've had an almost unprecedented string of warm, sunny days in Ohio lately. The forecast says we're due to get some Fay rain (say that ten times fast and you'll think of a big monkey), but right now the sun is streaming through the leaves of a nearby tree and it's making me think of the delightful indolence of this poem, one of my perennial favorites, James Wright's 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 come on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Isn't the resonance of that last line wonderful? I read it as ironic, because the poem is not full of regret.

The end of August can be a season for regret, especially if you didn't spend enough time lying in hammocks. Personally, I didn't spend nearly enough time floating on an air mattress on the lake. But what if I did spend enough time doing that? Then I'd be tired of it. The speaker is not tired of lying in the hammock. Maybe the word "waste" comes from someone else, someone who wants him to get up and have supper and take out the trash and sort the laundry so there can be something clean to wear to school tomorrow.

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