Wesley McNair

Wesley McNair (? - Present)

Wesley McNair lives in Mercer and teaches at the University of Maine at Farmington. He is the author of nine collections of poetry, including The Faces of Americans; The Town of No; Twelve Journeys in Maine; My Brother Running; The Dissonant Heart; Talking in the Dark; Mapping the Heart; Fire (Godine, 2002); and The Ghosts of You & Me (2006).

He has received numerous prestigious national fellowships and awards from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Foundations, as well as from the National Endowment for the Arts. His other honors include the Devins Award, a Pushcart Prize, and an Emmy for a program on Robert Frost. In 1997 he received the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal for “distinguished contribution to the world of letters.” He recently retired from the University of Maine at Farmington, where
he directed the creative writing program.

Poems By Wesley McNair


Goodbye To The Old Life (1 Comment »)
Analysis, meaning and summary of Wesley McNair's poem Goodbye To The Old Life

1 Comment

  1. Madelyn Barry says:

    A look into suicide is beyond difficult to interpret and this poem gives the reader a front row. Wesley McNair is able to share an engrossing story about a middle-aged father taking his own life due to a mix of events. In the poem Goodbye to the Old Life, Wesley McNair uses the literary elements of repetition and sarcasim to effectively convey his process of committing suicide.

    There is repetition of “Goodbye” throughout the poem, which emphasizes the idea of leaving and not returning. The speaker, a middle-aged father, is saying goodbye to certain things in his life. “Goodbye to the old life…” and “Farewell to the home and a heartfelt goodbye…” are just a couple of examples of the speaker’s decision to leave, while stressing that it is a difficult depart. His repetition for the word ‘goodbye’ signifies his frustrations and difficulties in his commitment and shows how many things and people he needs to say “so long” to.

    Along with repetition, the poem has a sarcastic tone as the author’s attitude is nearly satirical. The speaker is saying goodbye to his children’s private school and a campus where he wasn’t welcomed. His tone is loving with diction like, “fond”, “finest campus” and “heartfelt goodbye”, although he is upset with these things and withdrawing from them. It is evident that the speaker is frustrated beyond repair with tenants like Mrs. Doucette and Mr. Green who have both caused him damage. His last line and exclamation: “goodbye, wealth and joy to us all in the new life, goodbye!” expresses a ‘in your face’ type of tone. The speaker justifies his effort in trying to better his and his family’s life and failingand now, quitting.

    It is clear that Goodbe to the Old Life is a poem about ending a life on purpose and with reasons. Wesley McNair uses the poetic tool of repetition to highlight all of the ‘goodbyes’ necessary to give. Additionally a sarcastic tone is used to effectively keep it light and not tragic.

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