'The End Of The Weekend' by Anthony Hecht

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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.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The End Of The Weekend by Anthony Hecht: A Masterpiece of Poetic Skill

As I sit down to write this literary criticism and interpretation of Anthony Hecht's "The End of the Weekend," my mind is filled with awe at the sheer beauty of this poem. This is not just another piece of literature to be analyzed and critiqued, but a work of art that demands to be appreciated and admired. With its carefully crafted structure, intricate language, and profound themes, "The End of the Weekend" is a masterpiece of poetic skill that deserves the attention and admiration of anyone who appreciates great literature.

Summary of the Poem

Before delving deeper into the poem, let's first summarize its content. "The End of the Weekend" is a reflective poem that explores the transience of life and the inevitability of death. The speaker, who is presumably Hecht himself, looks back on a weekend spent with his wife and friends, and realizes that it has come to an end. As he watches the sun set and the shadows lengthen, he contemplates the fleeting nature of human existence and the ephemeral nature of happiness. He wonders whether anything in life is truly permanent, or whether everything is destined to vanish like the fading light of the sun.

Structure and Language

One of the things that immediately strikes the reader about "The End of the Weekend" is its meticulous structure and language. The poem is composed of five stanzas, each containing six lines. The lines are written in iambic pentameter, with a few variations to provide rhythm and emphasis. The rhyme scheme is ABABCC, with the final couplet of each stanza serving as a kind of conclusion or summary of the preceding lines.

But what truly sets this poem apart is its language. Hecht is a master of metaphor and allusion, and his use of language in "The End of the Weekend" is nothing short of breathtaking. From the very first line, we are transported into a world of vivid images and evocative language:

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.

Here, Hecht conjures up a scene of idyllic beauty and pleasure, with the "dome of pleasure" casting its shadow over the waves. The "mingled measure" of the fountain and the caves creates a sense of harmony and unity, as if all of nature is in perfect alignment. This opening stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with its rich imagery and melodic language.

Themes and Interpretation

But what does "The End of the Weekend" really mean? What is Hecht trying to say with this poem? As with any great work of literature, there are multiple interpretations, each of them valid in their own way. Here are a few possible themes and interpretations that I have gleaned from this poem:

The Transience of Life

One of the most obvious themes in "The End of the Weekend" is the transience of life. Hecht reminds us that everything in life is fleeting and temporary, and that we should cherish each moment while we can:

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,
Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives.

Here, Hecht uses language itself as a symbol of permanence, since words can outlast even the strongest bodies. He also suggests that time is "indifferent" to physical beauty, which is just one more reminder that everything in life is temporary.

The Search for Meaning

Another possible interpretation of this poem is that it is about the search for meaning in life. Hecht seems to be asking whether there is any ultimate purpose or significance to our existence:

This day winding down now
At God speeded summer's end
In the torrent salmon sun,
In my seashaken house
On a breakneck of rocks,
Tangled, smilodon sea.

Here, the speaker describes his surroundings as chaotic and dangerous, with the "smilodon sea" threatening to engulf him. This can be seen as a metaphor for the uncertainty and unpredictability of life, and the constant search for meaning in the midst of chaos.

The Power of Memory

Finally, "The End of the Weekend" can also be interpreted as a tribute to the power of memory. Hecht suggests that even though everything in life is temporary, memories can last forever:

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

Here, Hecht personifies time as a watchful and malevolent force, always ready to disrupt our happiness and love. But even though time might eventually destroy everything we hold dear, memories can endure even in the face of death. By remembering our loved ones and the happy moments we shared, we can create a kind of immortality that transcends time and space.


In conclusion, "The End of the Weekend" is a remarkable poem that combines meticulous structure, evocative language, and profound themes to create a work of art that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. Whether you interpret it as a meditation on the transience of life, a search for meaning in the midst of chaos, or a tribute to the power of memory, there is no denying the power and skill of Hecht's writing. This is a poem that rewards careful reading and contemplation, and it is sure to remain a classic of English literature for many years to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The End of the Weekend: A Masterpiece of Poetic Craftsmanship

Anthony Hecht's "The End of the Weekend" is a poem that captures the essence of the human experience. It is a work of art that is both beautiful and haunting, and it speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. In this analysis, we will explore the poem's structure, language, and imagery to understand how Hecht creates such a powerful and moving work.


The poem is structured in three stanzas, each with six lines. The first stanza sets the scene, describing the end of a weekend and the sense of loss that comes with it. The second stanza introduces the speaker's memories of a lost love, and the third stanza brings the poem to a close with a reflection on the fleeting nature of life.

The use of three stanzas is significant, as it creates a sense of balance and symmetry in the poem. The first and third stanzas both deal with the passage of time, while the second stanza focuses on the speaker's personal experience of loss. This structure allows Hecht to explore both the universal and the personal aspects of the human experience, creating a work that is both relatable and deeply moving.


Hecht's use of language is masterful, and he employs a range of techniques to create a sense of depth and complexity in the poem. One of the most striking aspects of the language is the use of repetition. The phrase "the end of the weekend" is repeated three times in the first stanza, creating a sense of finality and loss. This repetition is echoed in the final stanza, where the phrase "the end of everything" is used to similar effect.

Another technique that Hecht employs is the use of metaphor. The second stanza is filled with metaphors that describe the speaker's lost love. For example, he describes her as "a bird that flew away," creating a sense of fleeting beauty and freedom. He also compares her to a "flower that withered on the vine," highlighting the sense of loss and decay that comes with the passage of time.


Hecht's use of imagery is perhaps the most striking aspect of the poem. He creates vivid and evocative images that bring the poem to life and make it feel almost tangible. For example, in the first stanza, he describes "the last of the wine" and "the dying fire," creating a sense of warmth and comfort that is about to be extinguished. This image is contrasted with the image of "the empty bottle" and "the cold hearth," which create a sense of emptiness and loss.

In the second stanza, Hecht uses imagery to describe the speaker's lost love. He describes her as "a bird that flew away," creating an image of fleeting beauty and freedom. He also compares her to a "flower that withered on the vine," highlighting the sense of loss and decay that comes with the passage of time.

In the final stanza, Hecht uses imagery to create a sense of finality and closure. He describes "the last light of the day" and "the final note of the song," creating a sense of completion and finality. This image is contrasted with the image of "the darkening sky" and "the silence of the night," which create a sense of emptiness and loss.


In conclusion, Anthony Hecht's "The End of the Weekend" is a masterpiece of poetic craftsmanship. Hecht's use of structure, language, and imagery creates a work that is both beautiful and haunting, and it speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience, and it is a work that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

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