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The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me Analysis

Author: poem of Delmore Schwartz Type: poem Views: 4

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     "the withness of the body" --Whitehead

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
--The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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The Heavy Bear is the non-Jewish person, the majority who encroaches upon Jewish culture, society and identity. The heavy bear is the goy who possesses "a manifold honey to smear his face," a plenty of luxuries undeserved, enjoying the riches of American society, gluttonous, greedil, gorging himself on the necessities of others, denying the same wealth and plenty to those unlike him (who walk beside him, who carry the weight of the world with him, but who are fewer in number, richer in culture). The heavy bear is clumsy and lumbering in comparison to the intellectual, the cultured, the refined who is diminutive, delicately-made and graceful. As "the central ton of every place", this majority population dominates and controls the work place, the market of both ideas and commodities, brutishly keeping the other in place (below him), holding down all those who would attempt to unthrone him, oppressing the unheard masses through regulations and an old boy network (of like bears). The "angry white man" who wants his candy and demands a work week from others that he does not give himself, dependent on the labor of others who are forced to work twice as long (in menial jobs). This "crazy factotum" enters into every occupation, into every workplace, spreading his chaos, his false belief that he deserves what others cannot have. The heavy bear boasts at his accomplishments, including his sportsmanship, his physical prowess, his dominating personality, his "right" to possess more than (for example) the average Jewish person or Hispanic person or Black person.
The heavy bear is the goy who exists alongside Schwartz as the persecuted Jew. The crude physicality of the WASP majority, the physical immensity (strength in numbers only) forces the weaker (smaller) classes of society to submit, to serve his decadent ends, his debauched abuse of the earth's riches.
Jakob Ginsberg
Assistant Professor of Literature
an American university

| Posted on 2013-07-20 | by a guest

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The heavy bear is, of course, the body that is always with a person.
In stanza one, it “goes with me”; in stanza two, it “sleeps with me”; in stanza three, it “walks with me.” The poet stresses the “withness” of the body by the epigraph from the philosopher, Whitehead.
The heavy bear also represents the uncivilized primitive core of the human personality. It is the "id" of Freud, the "unconscious mind" of the psychologists, the hard-to-control brute within each one of us. Altogether, the poem gives a frank and unflattering twentieth-century view of human life.
The poem is not merely an appraisal of the individual, it is also severe social criticism of our times, as shown by the bear boxing “his brother in the hate-ridden city” and by the final line, “The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.” Heavy bears go with all of us.
Appropriately, the verse is highly irregular and the rhymes are sparse until the climactic last lines. Throughout, the diction is violent, gross, and unprettty.
Saints and poets through the ages have chronicled the endless struggle between the flesh and the spirit, but nowhere in modern verse has this struggle been portrayed with greater power than it is in “The Heavy Bear.”

| Posted on 2009-04-22 | by a guest

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