They say the ice will hold
so there I go,
forced to believe them by my act of trusting people,
stepping out on it,

and naturally it gaps open
and I, forced to carry on coolly
by my act of being imperturbable,
slide erectly into the water wearing my captain’s helmet,
waving to the shore with a sad smile,
“Goodbye my darlings, goodbye dear one,”
as the ice meets again over my head with a click.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edward Field's poem The Farewell


  1. Smart Kid says:

    “The Farewell” by Edward Field is a very interesting poem with an almost undecipherable meaning. However, upon serious judgment, some readers may reach the conclusion that this poem is about sexual intercourse. There are many allusions that would lead the readers to believe this. The speaker is discussing his feelings as he is losing his virginity. He is too proud to admit to this mistake, and even while he is doing it, he has his doubts. The first verse just tells the readers that the speaker is doing something that people have told him to, even though he isn’t entirely sure about it. In the second verse, the readers can guess what he is doing. Line 5 says “naturally it gaps open”, which could represent his partner’s genitals. Then, he says that he “slide[s] erectly into the water.” This could easily be related to the act of making love. The “captain’s helmet” mentioned in line 8 could represent a condom. His “sad smile” stands for his bitter-sweet emotions on doing this. “Goodbye my darlings, goodbye dear one,” can also be used to support the conclusion. The readers can argue that the darlings that the speaker is bidding farewell to are the people who trusted him, and the dear one is his virginity. At the end of the poem, he says that the “ice meets again over my head with a click.” This could be the girl closing her legs as he exits. Although the meaning is somewhat hard to understand, there are some factors that could force the readers to believe that the speaker is talking about losing his virginity.
    The poem has no set rhyme pattern, rhythm or meter. Alliteration, consonance and assonance are scattered around the poem, but not very extensively. The readers can guess that the speaker is male because the poem is very emotionless, and if a female wrote it, it would have more intense descriptions about how she felt. The poem does not really leave the readers with a set mood; it is not happy, nor sad. However, it does leave the readers with a few strong images in mind. While reading the poem, the readers can imagine a man stepping out proudly on ice, knowing that he will die. He waves goodbye to people standing around the shore supporting him, and he steps forward without looking back. But soon, the ice starts cracking and melting and he falls into it without being sad or regretful.

  2. Alissa says:

    this is a weirdo poem. i like it though, i guess. ttyl. bye loved ones

  3. Maria says:

    In the poem “The Farewell” by Edward Fields shows how to use your basic instinct of trust in a person.I really love this poem it’s very interesting.

  4. Catherine says:

    Thanks Edward, really enjoyed your poem

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Edward Field better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.