Groundhog

By , Chandler, AZ
“The Groundhog”, by Richard Eberhart, starts with the description of “Golden hills” and a “dead groundhog.” The narrator sees the body cover in maggots and wishes he could stop the destruction. In vain, he yanks a stick at the animal’s lifeless body. Upon his second return, he notices a change in the carcass, but he does nothing about it. When all he can see are the remnants of bones and hair, the narrator remarks the gorgeous structure the groundhog. The man simply observes only when the groundhog’s body has decayed.

In many cases, Eberhart uses the season to show time in the poem. To begin the poem, Eberhart notes the summer as “vigorous.” The adjective forces the reader to envision a hard summer. On the narrator’s next visit, autumn falls over the meadow. The body alters to a lifeless form; however, the seasons continue to change until a year passes. The change shows how the life continues. Summer returns and the groundhog transforms yet again. Summer is “massive and burning, full of life.” The description tells the reader how the world keeps growing around the scene. The grass may have return or new creatures may inhabit the area. After three years pass, the transformation seems to be more prevalent in the narrator. The poem expresses this by the walking stick. He needs the support of the branch to help him walk but the stick also shows he observes more than he acts.

As the poem progresses, the narrator’s tone gradually changes. At first, the narrator displays anger. He describes the ground hog as a “seething cauldron.” The reader perceives the body as a chaos of boiling unrest. The maggots disrespect the life of the groundhog. He illustrates his feelings as “half with loathing, half with a strange love.” He hates the maggots for their disrespect; however, he finds that he respects the maggots for their great strength. Upon his return that autumn, he finds the body all dried up. He discovers he has “lost both love and loathing.” The reader senses a feeling of indifference toward the groundhog. He finds no connection to the carcass any longer. Three summers after the death, Eberhart shows how the narrator has changed. The man wishes only to reflect on what the groundhog use to be.

The stick holds a key image in “The Groundhog.” The narrator uses a stick to poke the carcass in the beginning of the poem. He shows no ability to respect nature. He must intervene. In the end, He reflects on the groundhog and merely uses the staff as support. The change in the use of the stick shows an aging in the narrator. He respects the end of the groundhog.
In the conclusion of the poem, the narrator comes to a realization; life continues even in death. The groundhog carcass gave a home to the maggots; allowing them to caring on with the cycle of life. Eberhart concludes the poem with example of this theme. Civilizations like China and Greece still exist, despite battles, disease, and disasters. Alexander the great conquered the known world. No country exists today to prove this. Mother Theresa died despite her efforts to create peace.





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