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Friday, July 13, 2012

Cross Country Anthology Analysis

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Show how images in the poems you studied this year were used to convey ideas and shape your response. Refer to a range of poets and poems in your answer.


John Shaw Neilson, Judith Wright, Ada Cambridge and Rhyll McMaster use imagery such as metaphor, simile, repetition and personification to convey their ideas and influence our responses to their poetry. The use of imagery improves the reader’s ability to understand the ideas within the poem, by relating unknown concepts to known concepts and by using consistent techniques which create a ‘flowing’ poem which in turn influence their response. Relating unknown concepts to known concepts (e.g. human emotions to nature) creates a mental picture for the reader to which they can relate thus they can understand the concepts of the poem. The use of consistent techniques link each stanza to the previous and following stanza which aids the reader’s understanding of the poem also.


Wright makes references to nature symbols to convey human activity and emotions. In Woman to Child she uses metaphor to convey her ideas of pregnancy and the bond between a mother and her child.


I wither and you break from me;


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yet though you dance in living light


I am the earth, I am the root,


I am the stem that fed the fruit,


The link that joins you to the night.


The use of metaphor in the phrase, ‘I wither and you break from me; yet though you dance in living light…’ conveys to the reader the experience of childbirth. It signifies how the child is no longer living in his/her mother’s womb but is now able to live his/her life independently. In the next lines, ‘I am the earth, I am the root, I am the stem that fed the fruit,’ the reader gains a mental image of these nature symbols which all relate to the beginnings of life. The earth (soil), the root of a tree and the stems of a plant are all the beginnings of another entity. They convey to the reader how the mother created a life in her own body. It also conveys the eternal bond between a mother and her child through the nature symbols. The nature symbols used have ‘children’ that eventually part from their ‘beginnings’ but will always be connected to their ‘beginnings’ as without them they would not have existed. Thus conveying the eternal bond between mother and child.


These techniques used shape the reader’s response by improving their ability to understand the poem by creating a connection between symbols they have seen and events that they may not have experienced. This leads to the reader responding to the ideas of the poem in the way Wright has intended as they can relate to them and her perceptions.


Similarly McMaster uses metaphor to influence the response of the readers however also uses simile, consistent imagery and personification to convey her ideas and shape the response of her readers. She conveys, through the use of simile and personification, her perceptions of life’s journey. In The Journey, she uses a car trip to portray the pace of life, the journey of life and the struggles incurred. The car is used, as a metaphor, for the lives of those in the poems. It is used as it is a mechanism which they can relatively control and is a moving object, which relates to the relative control they have over their lives and the ‘movement’ of their lives. The car is used, also because it is an item people often come into contact with and can relate to. The scenery is used, as a metaphor, to represent life. In this poem, the scenery is described as moving rather than the car moving which signifies people’s perception that we are standing still while life passes us by. The use of simile, comparing the speed of play production to the speed of life, helps the reader gain a mental image of the concept of the poem and hence shaping their response. The reference to play production was used as plays act out events in life and because when performing a play, the stage crew and actors must be continuously doing jobs for the play to be successful which applies to the ‘structure’ of life.


On each side a field


stands in the wings


waiting like an actor for his cue.


McMaster personifies the fields to be like an actor to connect the similarities of plays and life (represented by the fields). The poem goes on to show the stress in life through simile,


We find relief


in corners -


slowing down, catching our emotions before the next act.


This conveys to the readers the desires of the people in the poem to ‘stop/slow’ time, in order to recover from the previous events. ‘We find relief in corners,’ refers to how people must decelerate before turning a corner. It signifies how the people in the poem feel they will find relief from the stress in life if they can ‘slow’ the pace of life. ‘Catching our emotions before the next act,’ signifies the recovering process after events in life before new events occur. In this phrase, the use of simile is continued to improve the flow of the poem and the reader’s ability to understand the concept. The use of these techniques creates a greater understanding of the concepts in the poem for the readers, enabling them to relate to them and hence influence them to respond in the way McMaster wants.


Similar to McMaster, Neilson’s use of metaphor, consistent imagery and personification influences his reader’s response however he is conveying a different idea. Neilson also uses religious symbolism to influence his reader’s response. In The Gentle Water Bird, these techniques are used to convey the fear of God he had as a child and the friend he found in Him as he matured. Neilson personifies a crane to become a symbol of God to show how he perceived God and how he converted to loving God not fearing Him. He personifies a crane as it is a large, powerful bird which overlooks humans on Earth from above, which is similar to society’s perception of ‘God’s view of Earth’. This creates a mental picture for the readers, to which they can relate more closely to, as they have seen birds but have not seen God, which influences their response to the poem in a similar way to Wright’s and McMaster’s readers.


As a calm soldier in a cloak of grey


He did commune with me for many a day


Till the dark fear was lifted far away.


This extract from the poem uses metaphor to portray the man’s perception of God. ‘As a calm soldier in a cloak of grey he did commune with me for many a day.’ conveys to the reader how he perceived God. Soldiers in battle have a strong bond, protect and stand by each other. This phrase conveys to the readers that he now saw God as a protector, someone who will stand by him, and someone he connected with. ‘Till the dark fear was lifted far away,’ conveys to the reader how, due to his new perception of God, was no longer afraid of Him. Here, metaphor is used to create a mental picture to which the readers can relate to as soldiers in battle and the bonds between them are a well known concept. The term ‘lifted far away,’ remains in context with the symbolism of the crane hence improving the flow of the poem and the ease with which the reader can understand the poem. This influences the reader’s response as a greater understanding of the poem and hence the intended ideas, influences the reader’s response in the way Neilson wants.


Cambridge, like the previous poets, uses metaphor to connect harsh climatic conditions and Destiny to the damage that commitment can cause to a relationship and the uncertainty of the outcomes in a committed relationship. This in turn influences the reader’s response to conform to her intended response. Like Neilson and McMaster she also uses consistent imagery to shape the reader’s response.


The use of metaphor in Vows,


How can we guess what Destiny will send �


Smiles of fair fortune, or black storms to rend


What even now is shaken by a gust?


portrays to the reader the vulnerability and uncertainty in committing to a lover. ‘How can we guess what Destiny will send,’ conveys to the reader how uncertain the outcomes of commitment may be, as destiny is unpredictable. ‘Smiles of fair fortune, or black storms to rend,’ conveys to the reader the good or bad possible outcomes of commitment. These occurrences are also unpredictable hence creating a connection to the first line. ‘What even now is shaken by a gust?’ conveys the vulnerability of relationships. A gust, a sudden blast of wind, can more easily knock down weak structures; hence the phrase conveys to the reader the weaknesses that may arise in the relationship and the damage they may cause. A gust is also unpredictable hence connecting all of the lines. The connection between the lines improves the flow of the poem and the ease with which the reader can read and hence understand the poem, which in turn influences their response. Through the use of metaphor, the reader’s can relate to the concepts discussed which influences their response in the way discussed previously.


Again, Neilson, in Love’s Coming, uses metaphor to influence his reader’s response however in this poem he also uses repetition to enhance their responses. These techniques are used to convey how ‘quietly’ and unnoticeably love was there.


Quietly as rosebuds


Talk to thin air,


Love came so lightly


I knew not he was there


The use of metaphor in the phrase, ‘quietly as rosebuds talk to thin air,’ influences the reader’s understanding of the poet’s idea. It creates a mental picture of a rosebud (roses are often a symbol of love between lovers) growing in air, which is a concept people can relate to as it is common thus influencing their response. The rosebuds symbolise the person in the poem and the air symbolises the love from a man. The rosebud and air co-exist perhaps without realizing it and air is essential for the rosebud to live and grow. This conveys to the reader more clearly the concept of the person unknowingly being loved by a man yet needing love and growing from love, as without a relation to a common concept some may not understand this. Readers gain a clearer understanding by further use of metaphor.


Quietly as lilies


Their faint vows declare


Came the shy pilgrim


I knew not he was there;


The metaphor, ‘quietly as lilies, their faint vows declare,’ conveys to the reader the intensity of the love. Lilies are the most common flowers found at weddings; hence they connect to the declaration of vows. This shows the readers that the lovers were extremely committed similar to the commitment in married couples. The repetition of ‘quietly’ and ‘I knew not he was there’ influences the reader’s response to follow Neilson’s intended response by emphasizing the key concept of the poem. The use of metaphor also influences the reader’s response in this way.


In conclusion, whether metaphor, simile, repetition or personification is used, the reader gains a clearer understanding of the poem and the ideas within it. These techniques are used to shape the reader’s response in the desired way by relating unknown concepts to known concepts and thereby improving the reader’s understanding of the poem. They also shape the reader’s response by emphasizing or outlining the key ideas of the poem. The manipulation of these techniques (e.g. consistent use of imagery) also shapes the reader’s response in the way the poet wants. The use of these techniques reflects the skills of the poets and influences the reader’s response.





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