Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
When I first read Wright’s poem, enticed by the title, I came to the end and broke into smiles. I realize it may not strike you this way. Certainly that last line is an abrupt turn around from all the gorgeous pastoral images – butterfly, leaf, cowbells, sunlight, golden stones, a chicken hawk floats over. What does he mean?
I’m not going to analyse this, though I gather it has been the subject of much disagreement. Simply to say that when I read it, my response was Yes! Any time I have spent not appreciating the natural beauty around me is a waste of precious time.
I don’t have access to a hammock just now but I do know how to go sit by the river to listen to it tumble over rocks or lie on the front porch and watch the wind dance the gingko leaves. This is the time of year to be ‘lazy’, to be non-productive in a consumer world. An opportunity to be idle and blessed as Mary Oliver has so aptly put it in The Summer Day, another fine poem to wake us up to ourselves.
Let us not waste our life by foregoing valuable moments to notice the world around us, to take in the beauty that is strewn all around waiting to be appreciated. So, find your version of a hammock and get busy doing nothing while you can. Enjoy!