Kevin Stein: On "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota"

In "Lying in a Hammock" every pronoun (until the final one) emphasizes not the seer but the object seen. For example, the physical beauty of the sleeping butterfly is no less important than the human act of seeing it; natural beauty and the perception of beauty are equals.

The speaker’s attention to the seemingly spiritual orderliness of the natural world brings him, then, to a discomfiting realization. The butterfly which seems made of precious bronze and the horse droppings which "blaze up like golden stones" appear capable of marvelous transformations that elude the speaqker. Unlike the hawk "looking for home" (not "a home," but simply "home," implying one exists), the speaker has no emotionally secure center, only a swinging hammock at someone else’s farm. In the face of such natural almost spiritual order, the speaker journeys to what [Robert} Bly calls a "wounded area" [in "The Work of James Wright"]. In a world of apparent order and meaning, a speaker who feels bereft of both could painfully conclude, "I have wasted my life."


Title Kevin Stein: On "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Kevin Stein Criticism Target James Wright
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 25 Mar 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication A Poetics of Vulnerability: The Branch Will Not Break
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