Robert Gray Essay

Robert Gray is an Australian poet whose work is closely linked with nature. He grew up in the post ww11 era, and lives on the north coast. The poems ‘The Meatworks’, and ‘Flames and Dangling Wire’, express how he feels about life, his experiences and his beliefs. His poetry has such an enduring nature because it can be understood in so many different contexts, and includes universal themes which remain relevant to societies past, present and future. In ‘The meatworks’ Gray presents a vivid and disturbing description of a North Coast slaughter house.

It demonstrates Roberts’s concern of the cruelty and indifference of humankind’s relationship with nature. Sensory imagery is one of the strongest techniques used by the poet. ‘… grinding around inside it, meat or not, solidified like candle wax. ’ This appeals to the reader through the use of vivid images that are not only visual but also aural and tactile. Gray creates stifling, oppressive images that characterises the repulsive atmosphere meatworks. The use of personification in the phrase “…gutters crawled off” emphasises the environment in which he is working. It suggests that the gutter is an oozing beast.

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The line ’blood around his finger nails’ can be interpreted in two ways depending on the reader. One is the literal meaning, of the unpleasantness of been unable to get the blood from his job off his fingers, while it can also be interpreted as that his job makes him feel guilty all the time, where the blood is the guilt. Robert gray intended to show readers the inhumanity of the acts take out during the poem ‘Meatworks,’ some people due to their personal contexts such as vegetarianism are more strongly affected by the poem and its issues, while others aren’t so concerned.

In ‘Flames and dangling wire’ Gray’s concern for humankind’s relationship with the natural world. The poem portrays humankind’s assault and separation from and on the natural environment, turning the beauty of nature into the disturbing modern lifestyle. There is reference to Gericault’s painting The Raft of Medusa ‘something flaps, like the rag held up in. ’ This is an allusion suggesting that humankind is burying themselves in their own waste, a disturbing indictment which confronts the audience. The line ‘driven like stakes into the earth’ is a simile and can be interpreted in two different ways.

It can be seen as the fact that man is trying to build a city of impermanence, and the other is the literal meaning of mans crucification of the earth with buildings. Robert Gray also uses contrasting juxtaposition of imagery extensively in the poem. ‘On a highway over the marshland… cars like skulls, that is rolling in its sand dunes. ’ This not only emphasises humankind’s assault on nature and the urbanisation that is contaminating natural spaces, but also compares the two landscapes as existing together.

It once again forces the responder to visualise the situation, one of which they may be able to relate too and question life’s morals. The poem shows the destructive nature of mans actions, which is an issue in society that is prevalent. In conclusion I would like to say that while I do enjoy reading the poetry of Robert grey it is because i enjoy his imagery. I think the reason his poems are so appealing is because of their ability to alter one’s perception in various situations. However, his poetry has no great affect upon me.

After reading “The Meatworks” I did feel some revulsion about the ways in which animals were slaughtered. BUT, I will not be changing my eating habits. I will not become a vegetarian. After reading “Flames and dangling Wire” I am concerned for the future, but I won’t step up my efforts to do with recycling. Like Robert I do feel we need to do something about our planet but, like millions of others, I am not committed enough to dramatically change my life style. So, as you can see the enduring nature of any text is that it can appeal to people in different ways.


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