'Covering Two Years' by Weldon Kees

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This nothingness that feeds upon itself:
Pencils that turn to water in the hand,
Parts of a sentence, hanging in the air,
Thoughts breaking in the mind like glass,
Blank sheets of paper that reflect the world
Whitened the world that I was silenced by.There were two years of that. Slowly,
Whatever splits, dissevers, cuts, cracks, ravels, or divides
To bring me to that diet of corrosion, burned
And flickered to its terminal.--Now in an older hand
I write my name. Now with a voice grown unfamiliar,
I speak to silences of altered rooms,
Shaken by knowledge of recurrence and return.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Covering Two Years: A Masterpiece of Despair and Isolation

If there's one word that describes Weldon Kees' Poetry, Covering Two Years, it's "haunting." This collection of poems is a tour de force of loneliness, desperation, and nihilism—a searing indictment of modern life and the human condition. From the very first poem, "The Vanishing Red," Kees sets the tone for what's to come:

"The last crane spreads his wings and cries And floats away to other skies. A new moon lifts a sudden hill And the spent leaves blow faintly still In the lane, in the night, in the chill."

This is a world of emptiness and decay, where even the natural world seems to be in retreat. Kees' poems are filled with images of desolation: empty streets, abandoned buildings, rusted machinery. There's a sense of loss and resignation in every line, a feeling that the world has passed these people by and left them behind. In "The Old Men," Kees captures the essence of this feeling:

"The old men have taken to their beds As if they loved them more than wives. They watch the drawn shades, the closed doors, The scattered light that comes and goes As time now comes and goes, as life."

Kees' language is spare and precise, his imagery precise and evocative. He paints a picture of a world that's slowly crumbling, a society that's lost its way. In "Sunday Evening," he captures the despair of a man who's lost everything:

"I stand alone on the darkening lawn And listen to my voice as it goes on In the cool evening, in the silence there. Is there another, living, anywhere?"

This is the heart of Kees' poetry: the realization that we're all alone in the world, that nothing we do really matters. We're all just passing through, and the world will go on without us. Kees' poems are a reminder of our mortality, a warning that we need to make the most of the time we have.

But there's also a beauty to Kees' poetry, a sense of wonder at the world's mysteries. In "The Speakers," he marvels at the power of language:

"We stand in the rain in a long line Waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work. You know what work is—if you’re Old enough to read this you know what Work is, although you may not do it."

Kees recognizes that language is what separates us from the animals, that it's the tool we use to make sense of the world. Even in the midst of despair, there's a sense of awe at the power of words.

Throughout Poetry, Covering Two Years, Kees grapples with the big questions of life: Why are we here? What's the point of it all? In "The End," he offers a bleak answer:

"It's over, it's over, it's over. It's over, it's over, it's over. It's over, it's over, it's over."

This is the ultimate truth of Kees' poetry: that life is fleeting, that everything we do will be forgotten. But as depressing as this might sound, there's also a sense of liberation in his words. If nothing we do really matters, then we're free to live our lives on our own terms, to find our own meaning in a meaningless world.

Poetry, Covering Two Years is a masterpiece of modern poetry, a testament to the power of language and the human spirit. It's a book that will linger with you long after you've finished reading it, a haunting reminder of our own mortality and the fragility of the world around us. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy—it's a journey you won't soon forget.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Covering Two Years: A Masterpiece of Modern Poetry

Weldon Kees’ Poetry Covering Two Years is a masterpiece of modern poetry that explores the complexities of human emotions and the struggle for identity in a rapidly changing world. The collection of poems, published in 1944, is a reflection of the poet’s personal experiences and his observations of the world around him. In this analysis, we will delve into the themes, style, and structure of the poems to understand the depth and significance of this work.


The themes of Poetry Covering Two Years are diverse and complex, ranging from love and loss to the search for meaning and identity. One of the most prominent themes in the collection is the struggle for identity in a world that is constantly changing. Kees explores this theme in several poems, including “The End of the Line,” “The Speakers,” and “The Changing World.”

In “The End of the Line,” Kees describes the feeling of being lost and disconnected in a world that is moving too fast. He writes, “The train has stopped at the end of the line, / The passengers unboarded, the engine dead.” This metaphorical image of a train at the end of the line represents the feeling of being stuck and unable to move forward in life.

Similarly, in “The Speakers,” Kees explores the theme of identity by describing the different voices that people use to present themselves to the world. He writes, “The speakers are the same, but not the words, / The words are different, but not the thought.” This poem highlights the idea that people often present different versions of themselves to the world, depending on the situation and the audience.

Another important theme in Poetry Covering Two Years is the search for love and the pain of loss. Kees explores this theme in several poems, including “For My Daughter,” “The Lover,” and “The Dead Admire the Living.”

In “For My Daughter,” Kees expresses his love for his daughter and his desire to protect her from the pain of the world. He writes, “I would like to be the air / That inhabits you for a moment / Only. I would like to be that unnoticed / And that necessary.” This poem is a beautiful expression of a father’s love for his child.

In “The Lover,” Kees explores the pain of lost love. He writes, “The lover writes / The death of love / In his heart / And on the page.” This poem is a powerful expression of the pain and sadness that comes with the end of a relationship.


Kees’ style in Poetry Covering Two Years is characterized by its simplicity and clarity. He uses simple language and straightforward imagery to convey complex emotions and ideas. His poems are often short and concise, with each word carefully chosen for its impact.

Kees also uses repetition and parallelism to create a sense of rhythm and structure in his poems. In “The End of the Line,” for example, he repeats the phrase “The train has stopped at the end of the line” several times, creating a sense of finality and despair.

Another important aspect of Kees’ style is his use of metaphor and symbolism. In “The Changing World,” for example, he uses the image of a “city of glass” to represent the modern world and its emphasis on materialism and consumerism. He writes, “The city of glass with its million inhabitants, / The city of glass with its million windows, / The city of glass with its million eyes.” This metaphorical image of a city made of glass highlights the fragility and superficiality of modern society.


The structure of Poetry Covering Two Years is also an important aspect of the collection. Kees uses a variety of poetic forms, including free verse, sonnets, and haikus, to create a sense of diversity and variety in the collection.

One of the most interesting aspects of the structure of the collection is the way that Kees uses the titles of the poems to create a narrative arc. The first poem in the collection, “The End of the Line,” sets the tone for the rest of the collection, with its sense of finality and despair. The final poem, “The Dead Admire the Living,” provides a sense of closure and resolution, with its message of hope and renewal.


In conclusion, Poetry Covering Two Years is a masterpiece of modern poetry that explores the complexities of human emotions and the struggle for identity in a rapidly changing world. Kees’ use of simple language, metaphor, and symbolism creates a powerful and evocative collection of poems that speak to the human experience in a profound way. This collection is a must-read for anyone interested in modern poetry and the human condition.

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