Why art ensues nature

My thoughts on the impact of nature on literature and art in general

Due to reading various poems by Australian writers, I remarked how different nature can be described. Although everything can be embodied in the term of nature, no matter if its grass, flowers, green trees, berries, animals or a dry bush. The naming is clear; however the connotation and actual appearance can differ largely.
Henry Kendall’s Bell Birds (Kinsella 67) and Charles Harpur’s Midsummer Noon in an Australian Forest (Kinsella 54) are both dramatizing the authors’ appreciation for what they call nature. However as each of us and them is exposed to a different appearance of nature, their poems vary in their content. Kendall and Harpur vary as Kendall appreciates sounds and lights of the Australian wilderness (5th stanza, 2nd line) whereas Harpur is bound to its calmness (7th stanza, 4th line), its “mighty stillness”(1st stanza, 4th line).
On account of this, their choice of language differs to a large extent. Consequentely the reader can imagine the picture each writer has of nature and is likely to encounter an outlook of nature that has beforehand been unfamiliar. In contrast to Harpur writing in a very romantic and tranquilizing way (e.g. “easeful here to lie” in 7th stanza, 1st line), Kendall uses stirring alliterations (e.g. “sights”, “sounds” in 5th stanza, 2nd line/ “lights”, “laughters” in 5th stanza, 5th line) and nouns (“sounds of the wildwood” 5th stanza, 2nd line/ “beats like heart-beats” 5th stanza, 4th line) referring to his appreciated “sounds” and “lights”. Due to this, his words seem to have an inner meldoy, due to  vivid couplets, that churns you up, whereas Kendall appeals to your senses stimulating your peace of mind.

On top of that I want to mention D.H.Lawrence. His short story Kangaroo (1923) reveals his fascination for the “invisible” and “formless beauty” of Australia. Hereby he focuses on its uncontrolled landscape.

Besides, nature is likely to be depicted by painters.
walls“Walls of China” by Russell Drysdale (1945) indicates that nature creates its own meaning and is maybe more expressive than the Chinese wall created by humans. Likewise does Judith Wright try to raise awareness for the power nature is inheriting. She has “no wish to chisel things into new shapes” (Rockface from The Shadow of Fire: Ghazals 1985), reminding humans of their tendency to manipulate the nature. In a broader context this can also be regarded as hint not to manipulate ourselves, society and everything else that is unconfirmed. With special glimpse at the Australian history it is mainly about convicts who were brought over to the “Terra Nullius”, starting to take over the Australian soil without paying attention to the traditions and values of the Australian inhabitants.

Extract from my Literature blog:

Probably this shows one typical European attitude; they tend just to take at face value what resembles their opinion what things have to be like. This can also be read between the lines of the poem “Invasion day January 26-indigenous Australia 1993″ by an unknown Aboriginal poet, “[…] Invasion, Discrimination, Dispossession […]“. Within this poem it is dealt with the dispossession of the Aboriginal people by European settlers like a duck takes to water. This seems to be a constant European behavior, also to be seen during Imperialism, Apartheid and the “Third Reich”.

Yet this has also found its way into music as the band “Midnight Oil” published their song “Beds are burning”,
Midnight Oil on YouTube

[ <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://embed.magistrix.de/lyrics/embed/11242/19009.js”></script><a href=”http://www.magistrix.de/lyrics/Midnight%20Oil/”>Songtexte von Midnight Oil</a>]

which refers to the campaign of proving the belongings of former Aboriginal families and the connected trials.

“The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back”

orange tree

From my point of view we can only due to a deeper respect towards everyone’s individuality and in the same manner the respect for nature has to be broadened. except diversity among our ever growing multicultural society. This is pointed out clearly in the poems of Judith Wright.

She uses birds to symbolizes individuality and their lack of any need to rely on social pressures or rules, “be simple to myself as to myself as the bird is to the bird” (4th stanza in Birds), “whatever the bird does is right for the bird to do” (line 10). Moreover they have a deep bond connected amongst them, which lacks humans (3rd stanza). Her poem Gum Trees Sipping underlines the importance of appreciating individuality. Due to the usage of symbolism, it becomes clear that meaning is not always verbalized, but needs individual interpretation (line 12, 18).
wright nature

Overall it can be said, that Wright sees truth incorporated into the combination of humanity and nature.

Hence everyone has to detect the spirituality of nature to experience his own
truth and see reality “through the eye”. This is especially pointed out in The Forest, were mere knowledge of names doesn’t help, active negotiation is needed to broaden your horizon (5th stanza), as well as in Gum trees sipping, where you need your senses to gather meaning (line 11). Consequently emotions are of higher significance than wisdom.
wright nature2This is also true for every question about art, literature or other issues – we need to be aware of individual opinions and values. As Margaret Wolfe Hungerford already wrote “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

David Malouf confirms Wright’s point of view in Fly away Peter (1982) as nature “was itself […] the sense it gave of being unfinished”, highlighting his appreciation its non-artificial touch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: