Lying in a hammock at William Duffy's farm at Pine Island, Minnesota by James Wright
is a haunting poem that I can read over and over again and find something new each time. The poem starts at a specific time and at a specific location and begins observationally in a pleasant, pastoral tone but by the second sentence I always sense some unease (why is the house empty?) and a kind of disassociation beginning to creep in (not cows following one another but cowbells).
How interesting the transformation of the horse droppings in the next line, but why are they last year's horses? It's an unusual syntax and adds to my sense of unease and discomfort. And then evening comes with the image of a predatory bird looking (but not finding?) home. By now, what can be read as a gentle nature poem has, for me, become something more sinister, although in a very subtle, understated way I find difficult to describe. And then- the dagger through the heart!
I have wasted my life.
No matter how many times I read this poem, I find this line startling but also quite ambiguous. Has the poet had a sudden moment of utter despair, as sometimes afflicts all of us? Or conversely, is he rejoicing in this moment of intense observation and realising that he has previously walked blindly through his life? I love that this line is so unexpected and can be read in so many different ways. I don't care that I'll never know what James Wright intended- he has written something that continues to surprise and resonate- and for me, that is the essence of a 'favourite' poem!