Please help me to understand the exact meaning of "last" in the text below.
"On Friday morning last there occurred in the sawmill operation of Douds Factory a particularly ghastly and tragic accident."
"Casting away" by Alice munro
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I'm not sure, but as I understand, in your sentence, the word "last" is an adjective, because you can replace with "Last Friday morning, there occurred...". It means the "most recent" Friday. I think you might better understand if you add a comma in this sentence:
On Friday morning last, there occurred...
-- when it happened, -- what it happened --
When you use the adjective form, "last" is for the most recent thing until now / just before the present, its use is to determinate when. This word has three conditions:
ADJ: being, happening, or coming at the end or after all others/being or occurring just before the present; most recent - This is the last day of the month / Last evening, last Thursday, ...
ADV: after all others; at or in the end; most recently - He came last when I called everyone (after everyone) / He was last seen in the mountains (most recently)
N: a person or thing that is last - The last loses one dollar!
The use of the phrase last Friday morning is not just to depict a day but also to show that it is past now. In other words, the poet uses this phrase in order to tell that time never stops. Everything in the world goes in the past. The poet probably tries to compare her mother with last Friday morning as both had their springtime (mother was young and the day had its morning) but now they are in the past (the day has gone and her mother’s youth has also gone). Thus in the very first lines, the central theme of the poem is revealed.