Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

James Wright: 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.


From the website of North Dakota State University. Included in Vox Populi for educational purposes only.

Bronze Copper Butterfly (photo: Alabama Butterfly Atlas)

One comment on “James Wright: Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

  1. pyenser
    August 2, 2019

    My favorite start-up poem when teaching literature! So, was that bronze butterfly a tree ornament or a live Bronze Copper Butterfly companion at rest on the tree trunk while the poet rests–or writes? I’d like to think both readings coexist in balanced support of the poem’s ambiguous tone. Oh, such clever Wrighting, don’t you think?

    Liked by 2 people

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