The use of poetry is made to represent some aspects of human experiences. Les Murray an Australian poet who captures personal suffering and daily experiences of people who struggle living in rural Australia. This is achieved in the poems “The Widower in the Country” which conveys grief and emotions accompanying the loss of a loved one and “Driving Through Sawmills Town” Which explores the beauty in the desolated and dying sawmill town. As the poet observes the town he describes with sympathy the slow fading away of the town. This essay will critically compare and contrast the two les Murray poems in reference to the themes of isolation, grief and escape.
In the poem “The widower in the country” Les Murray dwells on the concept of personal suffering and a sense of isolation due to the loss of his wife. This idea is conveyed through the use of polysendeton. The coordinating conjunctions “and” are used 14 times, as in the lines, “and leave my bed unmade.” And “….and split of kindling wood”. This illustrates the worthless of the personas mundane activity in his daily life which is achieved through his listing. In addition, the repetitive use of Polysendeton slows the rhythm and demonstrates his lack of motivation and interest in life. Moreover Murray uses personification and emotive language in “Christmas paddocks aching in the heat” which is symbolic to his personal suffering. Christmas is the time of joy and celebration which is missing in his life and the emotive word ‘aching’ which reflects the intensity of loss. His past joy is contrasted with his present suffering. Thus, through the use of polysendeton, personification and emotive language, Murray draws empathy towards the widower and explores the idea of loss and isolation.
Likewise, in the poem “Driving through Sawmill Town” Murray evokes the idea of isolation and loneliness, which represents the living conditions of the people in the Sawmill town. As the persona drives through the country, he appreciates the serenity and tranquillity of the area which is shown through the use of a metaphor in “In the high cool country, having come from the clouds, down a tilting…..” however a contrast is evident as he passes through the town and he sees men working and ashamed people who struggle to live ordinary lives and people who find their life meaningless. The use of alliteration “Bare hamlets built of boards” is deliberately chosen to convey the emptiness and desolation that exists. To further more highlight isolation Murray uses personification in the line “rolling a dead match between their fingers thinking of the future” this reassembles the isolation of people who live in sawmill town and how they are pursuing a better future. Thus both poems portray the theme of isolation and loneliness which illustrates the personal suffering and tedious daily routines which affects an individual’s state of mind.
Furthermore, in “widower in the country” the persona extensively conveys a strong feeling of grief and pain. This is presented through multiple uses of first person narrative “I will get up soon” and “I’ll…” which makes the reader feel empathy towards the widower. In addition the use of first person narration helps to capture the tone and mood illustrating the personas feeling after the fundamental change he had undergone. Murray also demonstrates his ideas through the use of repetition, such as in the phrase “sun” is repeated three times which symbolises his longing for light back in his life again. Moreover Murray uses symbolism in “the windless trees’ which highlights that his lifeless and denotes his disinterest in life. Ellipses is a strong technique used in the line “The nettles in the yard….“ this illustrates that he has jobs to do that are yet unkempt, the ellipsis exposes that there are probably more jobs that the widower has neglected to finish, for the reason that his wife died. Thus, the composer highlights and draws attention to how traumatic experiences