Tuesday, November 15, 2005

James Wright ‘s “Two Hangovers”

(From The Branch Will Not Break, 1963
Submitted by Susan)

Number One
I slouch in bed.
Beyond the streaked trees of my window,
All groves are bare.
Locusts and poplars change to unmarried women
Sorting slate from anthracite
Between railroad ties:
The yellow-bearded winter of the depression
Is still alive somewhere, an old man
Counting his collection of bottle caps
In a tarpaper shack under the cold trees
Of my grave.

I still feel half drunk,
And all those old women beyond my window
Are hunching toward the graveyard.

Drunk, mumbling Hungarian,
The sun staggers in,
And his big stupid face pitches
Into the stove.
For two hours I have been dreaming
Of green butterflies searching for diamonds
In coal seams;
And children chasing each other for a game
Through the hills of fresh graves.
But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,
And a sparrow outside
Sings of the Hanna Coal Co. and the dead moon.
The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble
In music like delicate birds.
Ah, turn it off.

Number Two:
I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once Again

In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.

6 comments:

Susan said...

The line I love in this poem is "he knows...that the branch will not break."

It is so deep and captures for me how we need to live life (with faith, hope and courage)but so often don't.

Ellen said...

Faith, hope, courage, and also a sense of reckless abandonment and fun!

This is my favorite poem of all time; thanks for posting it to share with other people!

LaShawndra said...

Thank you for leaving this!
This is a GREAT poem.

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Drew said...

This is a fantastic poem, and the collection of which it is the title poem is my favorite of Wright's. Of course the impact is in the last few lines, as people have said above me, but to ignore the rest of the poem for this is foolish. The depression is still alive, says Wright, and we can't ignore that and simply wake up and be refreshed. Part of why this poem is so amazing is its duality; it encompasses both the Midwestern Bleakness that Wright is so well known for as well as the alliterative brilliant blue jay who, in delighting himself, delights us as well. BOTH are important.

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