While James Wright’s poem “Lying in a Hammock” accentuates the hopelessness in the quickly fleeting moments in time, and Franz Wright’s poem “Flight” exposes the consequences of a distant father on a son longing for a relationship he never had, the two poems are linked by the underlying theme of detachment. It is evident, by juxtaposing these two works, divided by literary devices such as style or syntax, the underlying themes are circumstantially shared and induced by the hardship of life itself.
John Wright sets the scene at another’s farm, lying in a hammock; the poem comes across as being in a conscious dreamlike state. The butterfly is asleep and blowing like a leaf- Wright paints these dreamy images of nature, his mind moving from the butterfly to the empty house to the retreating cowbells, to the horse golden droppings, to the time of day, and to the lone hawk. Each example, each personification blurs the line between human and non human life, the edge of reality. Every line, every image- sight or sound- is held with higher regard, ever building on the last. Each phrase is a critical part of the process, no note should go disregarded. Not the two trees, or the horse droppings beautified, not even the title should go without a pause and a thought.
The title tells the reader that Wright is essentially out-of-place; he is at another’s farm, engrossed by his surroundings, subconsciously compelled by the ethereal painting of nature to feel as though he does not belong. Regrettably, the reader might not fully understand this until the end of the poem, in which he declares that he has wasted his life. The reader is compelled to believe that part of his appreciation is a kind of sadness that comes with the poet’s lack of tangibility to the outside world. The last line is only a surprise if no attention is paid to the painstakingly purposeful detail in every predeceasing line filled with hints of separation. With the spatial distance he describes, it is clear that James Wright is filled with a deep depressed and suppressed loneliness; the beauty that engages him is glaringly intangible.
Franz Wright starts his poem more ambiguously than his fathers. He curiously sandwiches the first section with two lines about a glass- “That glass was it filled with alcohol, water, or light,” and then “that empty glass.” The alcohol, water, and light are not as important in word choice as they are in substance. The significance is that they are all something whether it be the darkness of alcohol, the calm of water, or the light, the glass could have been...