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The End Of The Weekend Analysis

Author: poem of Anthony Hecht Type: poem Views: 13

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A dying firelight slides along the quirt

Of the cast iron cowboy where he leans

Against my father's books. The lariat

Whirls into darkness. My girl in skin tight jeans

Fingers a page of Captain Marriat

Inviting insolent shadows to her shirt.

We rise together to the second floor.

Outside, across the lake, an endless wind

Whips against the headstones of the dead and wails

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 eventual shapes of all our formless prayers:

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

Of moonlight from the dormer cuts a path

Among the shattered skeletons of mice.

A great black presence beats its wings in wrath.

Above the boneyard burn its golden eyes.

Some small grey fur is pulsing in its grip.


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

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Although there are several words with religious connotations, such as wrath, prayers, and sinned, there is more evidence in the text to support that speaker’s fear is all he actually has to fear. In other words he is letting his mind wander out of the moment into the potential darkness of the future. God is not forsaking the sexual act about to take place. The speaker simply cannot get his mind off the fact this happiness will not last forever.
What lends immense support to this interpretation is the title, “The End of the Weekend.” People are apt to spending Sunday fretting over the fact that they have to go back to work Monday. The speaker, similarly, is in the midst of what should be a most enjoyable moment thinking about the after words. The situation is a metaphor for the way we live our lives, fearing what’s to come.
The “great black presents,” presumably an own, is a symbol of the ultimate what’s-to-come, death. The owl has symbolized death for centuries, and in a way we are all that mouse caught in the owls talons. It’s only matter of time.
This interpretation is further supported by the characterization of the shadows in his girl’s shirt as insolent. Insolent is not a word one would use to describe God or some great cosmic force. It is a word one would use to characterize one’s fear rearing it head in moments of solace.
Something else interesting is that the speaker continually moves up. He and his girl move from the first floor to the second, and then he alone advances to the attic. Is this symbolic of growth- the first floor being youth, the second being maturity, and the attic being death? there is a cowboy and a novel about adventures of the sea mentioned while the speaker is on the first floor, both of these are both youthful objects which stimulate one’s imagination. The second floor is where the take shelter for the purpose of performing sexual acts. The floor of the attic is portrayed as a bone yard. Let us assume this is so.
The speaker did not advance to attic out of necessity; he was investigating a noise. He allowed this noise to interrupt an intimate moment with his girl. He could have said, “it’s probably nothing,” and continued consummating the imminent sexual act. Hecht is conveying the message that to acknowledge to reality of death is to die. Not in the sense that if you don’t believe in your own mortality you’re immortal, but that to live life concerning yourself with its end is to be dead already.
Posted by Evlot Nevets

| Posted on 2010-09-16 | by a guest

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This poem by Anthony Hecht is the story of two lovers who, at the end of a weekend in a cabin by a lake, find their love-making interrupted by an imposing presence in the attic. Like any good piece of writing, it operates at two levels: the functional and the symbolic.
Functionally, there is a guy and his lady-friend, and they go upstairs to have a good time after a relaxing night reading by the fire. At this point, Hecht "zooms out" (like he is so apt to do) and provides the reader a glimpse of the greater setting: the cabin, the lake, and the graveyard that lies on the opposite shore. Back in the room, things get naked, but are promptly interrupted by a noise in the attic. The man, our speaker, heads up to investigate, "armed with a belt," and comes face to face with an angry presence that we can only assume to be an owl. The floor of the attic is littered with the bones of small rodents, and the bird clutches a dying mouse in its talons.
Symbolically, we must take duality into account when parsing out the significance of the speaker and his partner (and their actions). The most evident parallel, in my opinion, is the floor of the attic (littered with mouse bones) and the graveyard across the lake. In keeping with this parallel, we can zoom in on the pulsing fur that the speaker notices in the last line. This pulsing, living being is the only life that exists outside of the piles of bones (aside from the bird, which we will get to in a moment), just like the speaker and his mate are the only two people stirring (and pulsing sexually) by this deserted lake with the cemetery. And so we have linked the mice and the men, the graveyard and the mouse bones, which leaves us with one swinging, loose end: the bird.
The bird is symbolic of an over-arching presence that cannot be seen: God. This is not the God of the New Testament, it is the harsh, angry God of the Old Testament who looks down upon those who break the sanctity of the dead. And so, we can take this interruption of a carnal act to be the work of a disapproving God (the reason he disapproves is up for speculation).
Another possible interpretation is that the bird represents a feeling on the part of the speaker that somehow leads to an interruption of their sexual encounter. In the second and third stanzas, the writing goes from concrete to abstract, triggered by the cemetery imagery. The way I work this out in my head is that the speaker looks out across the lake and the cemetery, and as his woman loosens her underthings, he shakes forth "loose imaginings" and "formless prayers" in his mind. The wind whips against gravestones across the lake (like a voice in the speaker's ear) and his ascension to the second floor suddenly becomes much more complicated than the seductive, literal scene that we saw on the first. The action that solidifies this thought and symbolizes the existence of a complicated internal state within the speaker is his locking of the bedroom door. He is afraid of something he cannot see.
And so, we hear a noise in the attic (the attic could be heaven, or the speaker's mind), which brings the love making to a stop. The noise in the attic (and the presence of the bird in the last stanza) can be taken as physical proof of a change, or a hesitation on the part of the speaker. Just as the mice are subject to the bird, the speaker and his lover are subject to God and their internal states, bringing the poem to a close.
Hope this was accurate and helpful.

| Posted on 2010-01-22 | by a guest

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