The theme of identity is featured in the poems “Summer Farm” by Norman MacCaig and “The Bay” by James K. Baxter. Both poems are set in a natural foreground and address the issues associated with the theme of identity. Through the use of various literary techniques such as parallelism, metaphor and imagery, the theme of identity is presented in both poems.
In the opening of “Summer Farm” by Norman MacCaig, the persona is in a state of thoughtlessness and presents the reader with images of life on the farm. “Straws like tame lightnings hang lie about the grass. Green as glass the water in the horse trough shines.” The minute details and descriptions of the farm are reflective of how the poet is able to perceive his external surroundings
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Baxter concludes his poem in isolation, having changed from the personal pronoun of ‘we’ in the first two stanzas to I cannot turn away”, finally making it evident to the reader his inability to fully integrate within himself his own personal insecurities. The reader is left with the image of the poet “standing like stone” still “waiting for the taniwha” just as he had waited in his childhood. The alliteration of “stand like stone” places emphasis on the Baxter’s inability to leave his childhood memory, further presenting an irony in his earlier emphasis on the present ‘now’. The reader realises that James K Baxter is “torn across” when his journey, both to the bay and of his own personal discovery of identity, has drawn to a close.
In a similar way, Norman MacCaig is by himself in “Summer Farm” by the end of the poem. His own poetic self becomes the main theme of the last stanza, allowing the reader to appreciate that the farm is able to serve as a metaphor for Norman MacCaig’s identity, the ‘farm within farm’ forming an analogy for ‘self under self’. As opposed to James K. Baxter in “The Bay”, Norman MacCaig is able to explore the nature of the metaphysical world and see past the confines of time and space. He views himself as a “pile of selves threaded on time” using an image of a tapestry, where each knot is