What is the point of this short poem?
Last Stand by Keith Jennison
When the alarm came
He saddled up his fence,
Took the bit in his teeth
Closing his eyes
He put his ear to the ground
And waited, trembling,for the sound
Of approaching windmills
Is there any historical and literay allusion behind two trite phrases?
This poem, 'Last Stand' by Keith Jennison, reminds me of the literary and historical character Don Quixote. This character, a parody of a knight from the days of chivalry, deicides to go on a mssion, a long pilgrimage around the world in a quest against his rivals or his adversaries - the windmills. I imagine him on an aged and bony steed, crippled with arthritis and rheumatism - perhaps with a touch of dementia or alzheimers too - galloping (trotting!) at the 'enemy' with a long, long lance he can barely carry. His sidekick, Sancho Panza cheers him on. The novel, if you would like to compare the allusion, is by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Like the threats in your poem, the 'windmills' were of the mind (imaginary) so look for modern day threats, virtual or real in the background. In your poem the character appears to be being accused of inaction. I have provided the link to the work by Cervantes below:
I can only echo the previous post's allusions to Cervantes' work. I am struck by the "last stand" element to it. Part of Quixote's characterization is his belief that there is always a fight for chivalry and there is always a battle for his Dulcinea's honor. In his mind, there is no such thing as a "last stand" for his enthusiasm at mounting his steed and waiting for the "windmills" is boundless. Yet, this is probably where Cervantes' greatness is enhanced. Writing at the height of the Spanish Empire, El Siglo del Oro, he understood that many in Spain were similar to Quixote, in their boundless optimism at Spanish domination. Yet, the onset of the defeat of the Armada at the hands of the British navy coupled with Spain's decline, created a setting where it had become like Quixote, chasing windmills of its former glory, and "trembling" at the sound of what lies ahead. If there is a point to the poem, it might be that the glory of what might be perceived has to be juxtaposed with what actually is.
As far as interpretation goes (the allusions were well covered in the first answer), I agree with the first answer in that I believe that the subject of the poem is being accused of inaction. You can see this in the idea that he waited for the windmills to come rather than going after them.
The subject of the poem is also being described as a coward. The subject is trembling even though (the implication is) that there is no real danger. We also see the subject closing his eyes, which would once again seem to indicate cowardice.
So, the subject of the poem is being derided for cowardice and inaction.
I agree with the previous respondents idea that the poem relates to a nigh like "Don Quixote." In the poem "Last Stand" the author describes the windmills. Windmills for Don are objects which he tilts towards as they are his adversaries. He is chivalrous in his behavior towards them just as he is in his own personal intent. The person represented in the poem is preparing to do battle. He waits in suited armor, battle gear, for his approaching adversary. He has been alerted to the need for him to make himself ready to do battle. Courage does not come easy despite his preparation and he is nervous as he waits to fight his foe. Literary illusion represents his stead or horse in the line;
"He saddled up his fence"
The windmills represent his adversaries that are coming towards him.
"Of approaching windmills"