Undefined Poet

The View From Halfway Down (Bojack Horseman)

‘The View From Halfway Down’ is a short poem included in an episode of Bojack Horseman. It provides readers with a unique insight into the mind of someone who is moments from his death and experiences an intense regret for his choice to end his life.

This highly effective poem was included in a season six episode of the popular television series. The poem is read aloud by Secretariat and was likely written and included in the episode in order to share a message about suicide and suicide prevention.


Summary 

‘The View From Halfway Down’ is a poem written from the perspective of a man who has jumped off an overpass to his death.

In the first lines of this poem, the speaker describes a man standing on the edge of an overpass contemplating jumping off to his death. The man is teetering at the edge of the drop and soon decides that he is going to commit to jumping. As he falls, he experiences an unmatched sense of peace. But, this is soon replaced by panic. As he analyzes the view from “halfway down,” he realizes that this was a huge mistake. He notes that he would give anything to return to the safety of the overpass. 

You can read the full poem here

Detailed Analysis 

Stanzas One and Two 

The weak breeze whispers nothing
the water screams sublime.
His feet shift, teeter-totter
deep breaths, stand back, it’s time.

(…)

Eyes locked shut but peek to see
the view from halfway down.

In the first lines of this poem, the speaker makes use of personification. They describe a “weak breeze whisper[ing] nothing.” This is a very dreary image with which to begin a poem, but as a context becomes clear, the starting images make sense. There is only one character in this poem, described from the third person narrative perspective. The man is standing on the edge of the overpass, with his feet tetter-tottering on the edge. 

Without explicitly describing what he’s doing there, the reader should immediately understand that the man is considering jumping to his death. By the end of the first stanza, he has already decided that it’s time for him to end his life. The man jumps off the bridge, his “toes untouch the overpass,” and he’s on his way to the water (he’s “water-bound”). As he falls, he opens his eyes a little bit to see the view of the water from “Halfway down.” Here, readers understand exactly what the title means. It is also in these few seconds in which the man considers his life and his death that the rest of the poem takes place.

Stanzas Three and Four 

A little wind, a summer sun
a river rich and regal.

(…)

It’s all okay, or it would be
were you not now halfway down.

The poem pauses, describing the wind, the sun, and the river. The man experiences a flood of endorphins that “knows no equal.” He’s at peace, but at the same time, he is well aware of what is about to happen to him.

In the fourth stanza, the narrative perspective shifts. Now, the speaker utilizes the second person’s perspective in order to describe, as though they are the falling man himself, what it is like to plummet to one’s death. The speaker says that “you see things” far more clearly than from an everyday perspective. Everything is okay, the speaker adds, except for the fact that “you [are] halfway down.” It’s at this point that the poem shifts again, and readers start to become aware of the man’s doubts about his own decision to commit suicide.

Stanzas Five and Six 

Thrash to break from gravity
what now could slow the drop?

(…)

Before I leaped I should’ve seen
the view from halfway down.

In the fifth stanza, the quatrain begins with yet another shift in the narrative perspective. For the rest of the poem, the speaker uses the first-person perspective. Now, the lines are truly coming from the perspective of the falling man. He is thrashing, attempting to break “from gravity.” There’s nothing now that could “slow the drop.” He’s regretting his choice to take his own life. 

The man states that he would’ve, at that moment, given anything to return to his position of safety at the top of the overpass. This incredibly original take on a poem about suicide provides readers with insight into the mind of someone who chose to take their own life but, as they were headed towards their death, regretted it. 

In the sixth stanza, the man states that he knows there is no way out. “The deed is done,” and the silence in the air drowns out any sounds that he might hear or make. He wishes that he could’ve seen the “view from halfway down” when he was at the top of the overpass.

It’s here that readers should come to a full understanding of the purpose of this poem. It is to provide readers, especially those who may have suicidal thoughts, a view from “halfway down.” It is a perspective that no one, except for those who have already committed to taking their life, normally have. 

Stanza Seven 

I really should’ve thought about

the view from halfway down.

I wish I could’ve known about

the view from halfway down—

In the seventh stanza, the poet repeats the refrain, “the view from halfway down,” two more times. Through this repetition, the speaker emphasizes how changed he would’ve been had he known what it was really going to feel like to know that his life was moments from ending. He wishes that he had thought about or known about the “view from halfway down” before he jumped.

Structure and Form 

‘The View From Halfway Down’ is a seven-stanza poem that is divided into sets of four lines. These are known as quatrains. The lines follow a simple rhyme scheme of ABCB and change end sounds from stanza to stanza. This is the rhyme scheme commonly associated with a ballad. But, the poem does not make use of the alternating lines of iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter that are also commonly associated with the meter. But, the lines are fairly similar in length, visually appearing to be around the same number of syllables each.

Literary Devices 

Throughout this poem, several literary devices are at work. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Caesura: occurs when a poet inserts a pause in a line of verse. This could be through the use of punctuation or through a natural pause in the meter. For example, “deep breaths, stand back, it’s time” and “But this is it, the deed is done.” 
  • Imagery: can be seen when the poet uses particularly interesting and effective descriptions. They should inspire the reader to imagine the scene in the greatest detail as possible. For example: “His feet shift, teeter-totter / deep breaths.” 
  • Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines one and two of the first stanza as well as lines one and two of the fourth stanza. 
  • Alliteration: occurs when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “rich and regal” in line two of the third stanza. 


FAQs 

What is the poem ‘The View From Halfway Down’ from? 

The poem ‘The View from Halfway Down’ originally appeared in a season six episode (of the same name) of the comedy Bojack Horseman. It was the 75th episode of the show, and it premiered on January 31, 2020.

Which episode of Bojack Horseman is ‘The View From Halfway Down’ in? 

The poem appears in an episode titled, “The View from Halfway Down” in Season 6. It is read aloud by the Secretariat as the stage around him reacts to his words. As he reaches the end of the poem, he stumbles backward into a doorframe and disappears.

Who wrote ‘The View From Halfway Down?’  

The poem appeared in a Bojack Horseman episode of the same title. It was written by Alison Tafel, who is credited with writing the episode and the poem itself. 

What is the purpose of ‘The View From Halfway Down?’

The purpose of this poem is suicide prevention. It was written with the intention of providing those who may be contemplating taking their own life with a “view from halfway down.” This unique perspective might inspire someone who is having suicidal ideations from committing to the act, like the man on the bridge did. 


Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some related poetry. For example:

  • Wanting to Dieby Anne Sexton –  a poem about the poet’s desire to take her own life. It was written close to ten years before she committed suicide. 
  • Don’t kill yourself todayby Hannah Dains – a thoughtful and powerful poem about suicide. The poet explores all the reasons someone has to stay alive and expresses her love for those struggling with depression.
  • Suicide’s Note’ by Langston Hughes – a short emotional poem that speaks very simply and peacefully on life suicide and death.

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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