(Note that analyses can vary widely, hence these annotations must only be used in conjunction with your own analyses).
Annotations of The Lammas Hireling by Ian Duhig
Summary of the poem:
Title: Lammas — harvest festival celebrated in England. Hireling — a person part-time employed to do menial work during the harvest season.
Tone: 1st POV, at first jolly but quickly turns macabre. Seemed like a monologue or narrative at first, but the last lines reveal that he is speaking to a priest — reader is the priest. Descriptions are meant to be ambiguous and twisty — creates mysterious atmosphere.
Summary: A farmer hires a young man as his hireling for cheap, who seems to be a good omen as his harvest/produce quickly become plentiful. There are connotations of him pursuing the boy romantically. But one night, after woken up by a nightmare, he wakes up to see the boy practicing dark magic. He quickly kills the boy, who turns into a hare — Irish folklore has it that witches/warlocks die and turn into a hare. The experience seems to shock the farmer, and as his luck turns bad again, he seems to be between a dead state and living, like in a limbo. He confesses his sins to try and salvage his life, but does not tell us the full story.
Structure: Dramatic monologue!!!! Stanzas of 6 lines, caesura (1st stanza signals volta, listing builds anticipation) and enjambment create tension. Strong structure.
Themes: Liminality, witchcraft/magic, surrealism,
Devices used: contrasts (light/heavy — pun too), alliteration and sibilance,, references to Irish folklore, Intertextuality (Annals of Pursuit, muckle sorrow part), repetition, Christian allegory, metaphor (small hour),
Links to other poems: Eat Me (dramatic monologue), Giuseppe (surrealism, legend?), The Deliverer (atrocities)