Monday, October 24, 2005

The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak

The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak
By: Galway Kinnell

The man splitting wood in the daybreak
looks strong, as though, if one weakened,
one could turn to him and he would help.
Gus Newland was strong. When he split wood
he struck hard, flashing the bright steel
through air of daybreak so fast rock maple
leapt apart- as they think marriages will
in countries about to institute divorce-
and even willow, which, though stacked
to dry a full year, on separating
actually weeps- totem wood, therefore,
to the married- until- death- miseried asunder
with many small lip- smacking gasp- noises.
But Gus is dead. We could turn to our fathers,
but they protect us only through the unperplexed
looking- back of the numerals cut into their headstones.
Or to our mothers, whose love, so devastated,
can't even in spring, break through the hard earth.
Our spouses weaken at the same rate we do.
We have to hold our children up to lean on them.
Everyone who could help goes or hasn't arrived.
What about the man splitting wood in the daybreak,
who looked strong? That was years ago. That was me.

I didn't get the full effect of this poem till the end. The man splitting word is a metaphor for youth. When we are young we do think that anything can down, and that we are able to achieve the most difficult tasks. This is a reflection of aging, and how age effects the morality. To this poet, life seems to be short and unplanned. That once in his life he was able to fix things, was an object of male power and strength. And now the speaker realizes that as time passes so does his strength, his ability to save others. He understands that now that he is older, the people who he turns to are gone, like his mother and father that have passed. That he soon will be beneath the soil like his parents, and people before him. I like the quote about his children and how people raise children and hope that one day they will be there for them as they were as parents. However this idea seems more idealistic nowadays, people no longer want to care for their parents in old age because of the high demands of life. So often they are placed in retirement homes and visited on Christmas and Mother's Day. I think that is what the poet fears most, being forgotten by the people closets to him the most.


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