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The Poetry of Judith Wright - an Australian Experience?

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Year 11 Preliminary English Advanced Course 2005

Module A: The poetry of Judith Wright- An Australian Experience?

Claire-Alyce Heness

June 8 2005

Reporting the balance between the ÐŽ§distinctly AustralianЎЁ and the universal in a selection of Judith WrightÐŽ¦s poetry, being Eve to her Daughters, Remittance Man and South of my Days.

Abstract

This report discusses the influences of Australia as well as the universal impact on the poetry of Judith Wright. It contains an evaluation of both the techniques and the ЎҐplotÐŽ¦ behind the poems ЎҐRemittance ManÐŽ¦, ЎҐSouth of My DaysÐŽ¦ and ЎҐEve to her DaughtersÐŽ¦ as well as a comparison between the three poems. Australia, as WrightÐŽ¦s homeland, has had a significant effect on the content of her poems but references to English scenes are also consistent as well as general references to the universal world.

Eve to Her Daughters.

„ Poem Summary

The poem ЎҐEve to Her DaughtersÐŽ¦ tells of original sin and gives advice to the women (her daughters) of today from Eve regarding men. The first stanza describes the consequences of the fall but EveÐŽ¦s acceptance of it.

The second and third stanzas describe AdamÐŽ¦s rebellion against the punishment and the ÐŽ§insultÐŽK the trick They had played on usЎЁ, ЎҐTheyÐŽ¦ being God and Satan whom Adam has grouped together as a united opposition. Adam was discontent with the new life and strove to build a new Eden and put God ЎҐout of businessÐŽ¦.

The third and fourth stanzas tell the audience about AdamÐŽ¦s attempt to understand how the world works and to disprove GodÐŽ¦s existence. In his quest to unravel everything he decides that if it ÐŽ§cannot be demonstrated [it] does not existЎЁ. In this process he proves that humans themselves cannot exist and ÐŽ§refuses to accept the conclusionЎЁ.

The conclusion of the poem is in a sarcastic tone as a final message to EveÐŽ¦s ЎҐdaughtersÐŽ¦ that everybody has faults and they always work out. She suggests that Adam is too stubborn to accept this and through this he has turned himself into a shapeless enigma that ÐŽ§doesnÐŽ¦t exist.ЎЁ

„ Universal References

The biblical references to Eve, Adam, Abel and Cain, as well as God and Satan are not linked to Judith WrightÐŽ¦s homeland or any country in particular but in particular her Christian upbringing. The poem reflects feminist ideas as many of her poems do and also encourage thought by including hidden questions within the poem to challenge her audience. In the third stanza there is mentioned a number of ideals that modern people are striving for such as ÐŽ§multiplied opportunities for safe investment and higher educationЎЁ as well as advanced technologies and communications. This stanza has obviously been highly impacted upon by the world Wright was living in.

„ Australian References

There are no obvious references to Australia in this poem as it is aimed at a larger, more generic audience.

Remittance Man

„ Poem Summary

ЎҐRemittance ManÐŽ¦ is the story of a rich man who enjoyed spending his money rashly who is now living the Australian outback after being exiled from his family in England. The first stanza throws the audience immediately into the story, telling of how the man was pleased about the easy escape from the lifestyle and was now enjoying the freedom of poverty and the open land of Australia.

The first half of the second stanza describes the harsh contrast between the Australian outback and the lush English landscape and how Australia slowly covered up the remittance manÐŽ¦s memory of his earlier life. It continues to describe how his newfound freedom was a welcome change (ÐŽ§ÐŽKthe track to escape and nowhere suited his book, the freak who could never settle.ЎЁ)

The second half of the second stanza talks of his new lover, presumably a black girl named Mary, who conceals the memory of his previous maiden and the memories of his childhood with her.

The poem concludes with the remittance manÐŽ¦s death in the Australian outback away from everybody. His family never finds his body and his brother back in England inherits the manÐŽ¦s fortunes with only ÐŽ§vague pityЎЁ.

„ Universal References

There are many references of poverty, wealth and England in the poem Remittance man some examples of which are:

o Lines 1 and 2 describing the man as a ÐŽ§spendthrift, disinherited and gracelessЎЁ with a ÐŽ§pittanceЎЁ (small amount of money) as direct references to poverty.

o Line

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