Alliance and Cooperation Between People and the Landscape
A relationship of alliance between individuals and the landscape is one clearly represented within the poetry of Judith Wright and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, namely, through Moving South, Brother and Sisters, and This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison. This cooperation that occurs represents a clear connection between people and their respective environments. Though it can be positive or negative, such a relationship distinctly demonstrates mutual respect as depicted in the works of these two poets.
The persona of Judith Wright’s Moving South and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison both experience an allied, cooperative relationship with the landscape marked by deep respect and understanding, but also consistently yearn for other, differing environments. Within Moving South, kinesthetic and olfactory imagery portray an evocative, summery atmosphere that juxtapose the persona’s high-modality rejection of it, “cutting back fleshy stems, / smelling steam scented gardenias/ I think of winter.” The utilisation of first person further emphasises the individual’s connection with the cooler environment, though her vivid understanding of the summer landscape is made clear. The personality within This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison experiences a similar level of profound awareness regarding nature, capitalisation demonstrating his philosophical notions and indicating that the natural world is synonymous with life itself, “No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.” Judith Wright’s character is equally connected to nature, which is elucidated as she personally addresses the landscape, “I’m tired now, summers, / of cutting you back to size. / Where I’m going you will be more succinct”. Through metaphor, the persona’s distaste for her current environment is made clear, and she yearns for her imagined southern landscapes as a possibility for a more positive, cooperative relationship. Wright further reflects this notion in a previous stanza, “I move closer toward the pole.” The symbolism of “pole” for moving south demonstrates the persona’s conscious decision to reject the season of summer for a relationship with the southern landscape, where winter is a more predominant season. Imprisoned to a lime-tree bower and imagining the incredible landscape that his friends are experiencing, Coleridge’s persona also yearns to experience an alternate environment, desiring to “…gaze till all doth seem/ Less gross than bodily’ and of such hues/ As veil the Almighty Spirit.” Biblical allusions demonstrate the subliminal significance of the landscape to the individual, and it is one that mirrors the awe of Wright’s persona in the face of a more wintery environment.
Portraying a similar, cooperative relationship between individuals and the landscape to that of Moving South is Judith Wright’s Brother and Sisters. Samuel Taylor Coleridge also depicts this respectful alliance to an equal degree through his poem, This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison. Though the characters within Wright’s poem had many colonial ideas in remembrance of their past landscape intended to impress upon the Australian environment, they never come to fruition, and this is clearly depicted through symbolism, “now their orchards would never be planted.” Coming to a complete understanding of the harsh brutality and unforgiving nature of the Australian terrain, the personas, “never crossed the mountains to the coast. / But they stayed on.” By accepting and cooperating with their present surroundings, even though the emblematic naturalistic barrier of the mountain further prevented their colonial intentions, the individuals are able to become resilient and adaptable, a trait they learned from the Australian environment and one that is highlighted through the disjunction.
Coleridge also introduces the notion of the remembered landscape and its role in understanding the present, as the persona reminisces nature, “…of which I told; The roaring dell, o’erwooded, narrow, deep, / And only specked by the mid-day sun”. Utilising cumulative listing to describe the image of the landscape, one that is dark and impure, Coleridge demonstrates the individual’s deep knowledge regarding his environment, ultimately illuminating his positive relationship with it. In fact, even the understanding of time within This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison is completely determined by the natural world and indicated through symbolism, “when the last rook/ Beat its straight path along the dusky air/ Homewards, I blest it!” Additionally, time is discussed though natural concepts within Brother and Sisters, “The saplings sprouted slyly; day by day”. Sibilance and repetition give an atmosphere of time slowly passing as well as once again demonstrating the resilient and persistent nature of the tangible Australian landscape, as it continues to thrive despite what is put in its path. The siblings within Wright’s poem understand and respect this, and it allows them to have a cooperative relationship with their environment.
Hence, it can be concluded that individuals and the landscape experience an intense connection, one of mutual respect, alliance, and cooperation. This sentiment is absolutely distinct within Moving South and Brother and Sisters by Judith Wright, and This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
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