Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Analysis of "The End of the Weekend" by Anthony Hecht

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The End of the Weekend" by Anthony Hecht
Originally read: October 8, 2013
More information about the Poet: Anthony Hecht


If you took Samuel Maio's class on anything poetry related (research or workshop), then you ran into this poem.   And no matter how many times we went over the poem, the professor always had his sympathies for the speaker.

The poem is in rhymed sestets with the rhyme scheme of abcbca.  I think the important thing to note is the wide separation of the "a" rhyme with the disjointedness of the "bc" rhymes which foreshadow the speakers separation of the moment.

But the moment is this currently, "A dying firelight slides along the quirt / Of the cast iron cowboy where he leans / Against my father's books."  So the zoom focus of a fire, a hearth perhaps, and of a symbol -- note that this leads to the realm of narrative, "The lariat / Whirls into darkness.  My girl in skin tight jeans / fingers a page of Captain Marriat"  Okay, so the rhyme is a bit out there; however note the attention to darkness and the equal attention to jeans.  Note the split.  The speaker is aware of both and is now transitioning, "Inviting insolent shadows to her skirt."

Romance?  More of a togetherness where, "We rise together to the second floor, / Outside, across the lake, an endless wind / Whips against the headstones of the dead and wails"  Yes, the situation is there, even slight, of having sex, but note the speaker's mind is, again, not in the scene, rather outside to the dead, "In the trees for all who have and have not sinned / She rubs against me and I feel her nails. / Although we are alone, I lock the door."  The key word with this part is "sinned," according to my professor?  Why?  Here, the speaker does actions as though he is judged and the scale is on "sin."  This is a pretty hefty scale of comparison, but the mindset of the speaker fluctuates on scale pretty fast -- from darkness to sex to even more darkness to even more sex.

The idea of sin and religious undertone becomes solidified with the line, "The eventual shapes of all our formless prayers."  With the rest of this stanza note how the transitions become more hurried as the actions slips away to the mental state:

     This dark, this cabin of loose imaginings
     Wind, lip, lake, everything awaits,
     The slow unloosening of her underthings
     And then the noise.  Something is dropped. It grates
     against the attic beams.  I climb the stairs
     Armed with a belt

     A long magnesium shaft

So here the imaginings of the dark and the body goes away to the immediate sound that the speaker has to check.  But the mindset the speaker has about the sound is full of dark, sin, and judgment.

And when the speaker discovers the, "A great black presence beats ts wings in wrath"  the symbol is a culmination of the sin, dark, judgement.  What's being judged?  "Above the boneyard burn its golden eyes / Some small grey fur is pulsing in its grip"  DEATH!  No not really, judgement that pulsates, reverbarates, continues in the claws of the shade.

Is the speaker the mouse at the end...metaphorically.  There's a strong argument for this.  The speaker and the mouse are both caught in the "dark."  And so the "End of the Weekend" is the one with the woman -- the escape perhaps.  The struggle with the dark -- always eternal.

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