Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

In “Homage to the Fox” and “Judas, Flowering,” the speaker glorified evildoers because, as the epigraph points out, they are both interesting and successful. However, the epigraph ends by noting that evil results in “misery and affliction.” Certainly it did for Judas, who committed suicide and presumably is spending eternity in Hell. It is obvious, then, that though Hudgins’s persona may be deceived, the poet is not. Instead, he is using his speaker to demonstrate how human beings are seduced by evil and specifically by lies and lying.

“Repentance” differs from the segments before and after it in that, here, lying is not shown as a way to worldly power but as a positive good. For example, people would be happier, the speaker argues, if they could not anticipate the deaths of those they love. The knowledge God gave humankind, then, is a burden, not a blessing. The persona then insists that it is lies, not facts, that make a person happy. For one thing, reality is limited, while the human imagination can invent possibilities “six times a second.” Even if these dreams do not come true, anticipation alone can bring one great delight.

It is difficult to refute this argument, especially when one broadens it to include in the category of “lies” all the works of the imagination. If one were to divide the world on that basis, as a writer Hudgins must be on the side of lies, and so would everyone be who has chosen to read this...

(The entire section is 478 words.)