The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me

by Delmore Schwartz

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 245

"The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me" is a poem in which the man recognizes "the secret life of belly and bone" within him; that is, he perceives a separation of mind and body. This "hungry beating brutish" part of him is comprised of his erotic desires, his hunger, and his sensual appetites. At times this part of him causes him embarrassment—"stupid clown of the spirit's motive"—or it perplexes him.

This "Bear" is a part of himself that the speaker would prefer to not be with him sometimes. For instance, this brutish part interferes when the man is with his beloved and wants to be romantic with words rather than physical acts. But, the "heavy bear" within him
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear
This personification of the mortal part of himself with its carnal desires as a bear who accompanies the speaker suggests that the man may feel some fear of his physical and sensual desires. Indeed, Delmore Schwartz's poem hints at the conundrum of Dr. Jekyll, who desired to separate his two natures but found that his carnal drives and desires overpowered the spiritual side of him. Further, the hungry, brutish bear in him reminds the speaker of his mortality.
The strutting show-off is terrified . . .
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

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