“Mr Flood’s Party” is a seven-stanza poem about a drunk man named Eben Flood who continues to drink on a hill alone, remembering times past. The first stanza addresses setting, stating that Eben has “climbed” the hill between town “below” and “upland hermitage,” or the more rural hilly lands surrounding. The stanza also identifies these geographical locations as the only home “he should ever know.” The reader begins to understand that Eben is elderly, has lived in this area a long time, and may not have much time left to linger there.
This idea of limited time remaining is reinforced in the second stanza, where Eben begins talking to himself, saying that he might as well drink under this harvest moon, as there may not be many more for him. He does not expect to live another year. Most would note that he is talking to himself because his friends have all passed away before him, and while this is true, there is also the implication that he is hallucinating because he is already in a drunken state. In his drunken stupor, he is remembering times long past, essentially grieving and toasting to auld lang syne. "Auld Lang Syne" is a poem by poet Robert Burns, which means “time long past,” and is often read at commemorative ceremonies. The reader could also infer that Eben drinks this night because the last of his old friends has passed away, making home feel a little less like home.
Over the remaining stanzas, the reader can see Eben become increasingly drunk. At one point, he struggles to very carefully set down his jug because alcohol has disrupted his motor skills. At a later point, he sees “two moons” instead of one, which shows the reader Eben is now drunk enough to see double. The poem ends with a final toast to auld lang syne and the mournful thought that the town has become strange to him because so many friends have died.
“Mr. Flood’s Party,” which first appeared in The Nation and later in Avon’s Harvest (1921), is a sad portrait of a friendless man who has witnessed “many a change” and has now outlived his time. Eben feels that he has lived too long. The harvest moon he sees underscores his situation. Harvested crops have a use at the end of their cycle, whereas Eben has outlived the late-autumn stage of his life and is of no use to anyone, not even to himself. The townspeople do not welcome him, probably because...
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