Here is a boy, surrounded by the beauty of Vermont, and he does not have the time to enjoy his youth. Then comes a greater shock, the injury to his hand. His subsequent death, however, does not surprise as much as the reaction to his death. The people simply turn to their affairs. This seems a cold reaction. There is no expression of mourning. Perhaps these people do not have time to mourn. Perhaps they are poor and don't have the energy to exert on matters which they cannot change. I finish this poem feeling somewhat cold-hearted. This poem is about the shortness of life.
This poem strikes me as almost whimsical, and yet it leaves me feeling more concerned about loss. By whimsical, I mean that I almost feel as if I am reading a nursery rhyme or listening to a children's song. There is a great deal of repetition, and an almost indifferent attitude to losses. The things that are lost begin small and become larger as the poem develops. Despite this, there is no disaster. I am curious as to the almost cheerful tone of the poem and the reality of losses. The poem seems to be preparing us for a greater type of loss.
In the end, the cheerfulness is shattered. The loss is too substantial to minimize the nature of the disaster. This is not a mother's watch. This is not a set of keys. The loss is a person, and I wonder how far the poet will extend her indifference to loss.