Hayden Carruth's poem, "In the Long Hall" depicts the unraveling life of a man who sees his life crumbling before his eyes and is helpless to stop it. He tries to focus on moving his life forward, but is unable to forget the damage that he has created within himself. He is unable to stop his deterioration, due to the entrapment within his own mind. He is unable to completely move forward and unable to focus on changing his lifestyle, which is self-destructive. The figurative language used in the poem assists the reader in experiencing the emotions of a desperate man life that is being conveyed by the persona.
The first lines of the poem describe the way in which the man is leading his life. It expresses the torture the man is dealing with in his own mind. He is eager to continue leading his life, but he is unable to shake the mistakes that he has created. He soon realizes that his life is beginning to "unravel" and "flaw" (2,3). While his life begins to become fulfilling he began to resent the way his life was undoing itself. As the poem continues, one of the sentences really seems to express the struggle that he is going through: "He resolved not to look back, but to keep going ahead" (8,9). For awhile he was successful in not looking back on his life or the havoc that was created, but soon he discovered that trying not to forget his mistakes instead of confronting them might not be the wisest decision. By not confronting them he was slowly losing the ability to move forward in his life. The life he sees in front of was gradually coming to a halt. It might be assumed the mistake that is so destructive in his life was something he had not intentionally created, such as, alcoholism. I believe that lines 15-17 represents it best, "Before he could not keep up, his hands were to slow, his fingers too weak" (15-17). These lines symbolize his loss of control over this disease.