This poem has a certain startling ambiguity, a bit like Frost's 'The Road Not Taken.' When Wright says unexpectedly at the end that he has 'wasted his life', after recounting to us all the details of his pastoral surrounding scene, lying in a hammock, taking it easy, we wonder is this what he means. For to notice everything with this attention is surely not wasteful, but quite the opposite?
This poem was quoted by author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) in a recent article series in The Atlantic, which asks writers to talk about their favourite passages from literature. Mitchell talks about how this poem urges us to stay inside the moment. You can read his discussion of the poem here: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/09/the-simple-profound-act-of-perceiving-the-world/380659/
Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota - James Wright
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.