Robert Gray Essay, Research Paper
Poetry essay, Robert Gray.
Question: Poetry can help us think and feel in new ways about every day experiences. Show how four of Gray’s poems offer a new prospective on everyday experiences.
One of the major effects of poetry is to take the reader to another place. To have one look at an everyday situation, and see another face to it. This is done by the imagist, Robert Gray. Through his poem, he gives the reader another view of everyday experiences such as Travel or Journeys, Work and the interactions with family to name a few. These everyday experiences are effected in a way, which changes the perspective of the reader if not for a second, then forever.
The first such example of travel is shown through out many of Gray’s poems. Though it is most evident in North Coast Town and Journey: The North Coast. In the first poem, North Coast Town, Gray details the experiences of a hitchhiker travelling around the coast. As Gray is an imagist, the poem brings to life the travels of this hitchhiker, who by describing the area gives personal views on the changes seen. Though the important part comes from this, that when travelling in an area that is not known, people become more perceptive. Although the hitchhiker is a native of the area, the issue of change is raised as he himself, does not know the town any more, after the change. Gray uses the travels of this person, who has no identity except for that of a hitchhiker, to show how some people travel.
Though in North Coast Town, the travel is the main pillar of which the poem is supported. This is the crucial point of the poem, as this travel is shown in a new way, Gray is using his poetry to show a new side of everyday experiences. From the smallest journey, as the hitchhiker travels to the changing sheds, and is “stepping about on mud”, although a familiar image, to begin to wash after is not. Some people’s lives are based on this travel. The travel of the cars as they pass the Hitchhiker, “like a boxer warming up spitting air”, this simile again shows a new face to travel, from a new prospective. To the more final image of travel, as the hitchhiker has received a ride, and is “smoking past” the shops in the town, gives the perspective of a new type. All of these add together to show a new perspective of everyday travel.
Though North Coast Town is not the only poem of Grays, which involves travel being shown in a new light. It is also shown in Journey: The North Coast. This poem directly is based on a train. A vehicle which travels. This poem details the morning of a person who seems to be going back home, on a train. Gray shows the vivid details of how the passenger, looks out his window, and describes the scenery. This poem directly does show travel, though when the passenger finally is a wake, the new side of travel is seen. Where the sunlight is “rotating”. Gray uses this poem, the images of this poem to show a new side of travel, and thus give the reader a new prospective over everyday experiences.
Secondly, Gray changes the prospective on the everyday experience of work for the reader. This is done by the shocking images and feelings shown in the poem Meatworks. This poem uses the experience of a worker, from his first day, to the repetition of life, which he goes through. Firstly, Gray uses vivid imagery to set the scene of the “meatworks”. A place in which the slaughtering of animals is done. And Gray introduces the main character, a new worker at this factory. Gray has the worker remember his first day, on which he broke a machine, after a stick slipped from his hand, and was grinded in the machine instead of the dead steaks. Gray uses the shocking images of the “sticky stench of blood”, “chomping, bloody mouth” and “their dripping solidified like candle wax” to show the reader a new view of Working. The reader is soon to find that the worker puts up with this job to simple be able to live in his weatherboard house, in his little section of paradise. Gray gives a new prospective of the working adult, that sometimes people are forced to work in an area which they may fear, or even hate.
Although, this is not the only poem again which talks of a change in the view of work, the poem Flames and Dangling Wires also shows to an extent the indirect view of people working at a dump. The poem uses the imagery of Hell as a comparison to this dump. Though towards the end of the poem, the speaker details the workers of the dump. Where he states “how could he avoid a hatred of men?” The speaker begins to look towards the workers of the dump, considering why they would work in such an area, surrounded by the “scavengers”. Again Gray details another side of work. A new facet for the reader to consider. This question of why, allows the reader to look at the everyday experience of working, and analyse it, and even look at their own life differently, and think themselves lucky that they are not forced to work “as in Hell the Devils might pick about our souls”.
Finally Gray has used his imagery in his poems to change the view that people may have over the everyday interactions and feeling or images towards members of their family. Gray in his poem Diptych, juxtaposes both of his parents. In both cases, he starts from some humorous anecdotes, such as when his mother fought of a bull from their front yard, to show the feelings shown to this person, though after this, he begins to compare and contrast the two parents. This comparing and contrasting begins a process which ends in the reader, not only seeing the multiple sides of his parents, but also that their own parents, again Gray has changed the prospective of everyday experiences.
In Diptych, Gray begins with his mother. He sees her at first as a caring person, whose marriage is crumbling around her. He remembers one night, his mother biting the tail off a lizard, which had crawled into her mouth. This happened while she slept alone on an unopened bed. This image of the mother begins with her being alone and cold, yet this is not to stay this clear and vivid. Gray begins to change this image by not leaving the mother as a weak minded person, entrapped by the marriage, but he shows that the mother is strong, even though her education had not gone much past the women’s weekly. This image, in many cases has the reader, looking at the mother, and how the interactions have changed, and then possibly at their own parents which have them again, getting a different perspective on everyday experiences by the use of Poetry.
In the second part of Diptych, the father is looked at in depth. From the mother’s side, one sees the father as an inconsiderate hateful man. Yet again this image is only short lived. Gray does look very critically at his father, and the things, which he has done, but by the end of the poem, it seems as though he has excepted his father as he was. With the final image, Gray letting the father’s ashes out where he had always spoken of in a happy tone, we see that Gray is using this view of acceptance to influence the reader. The reader is then left to see the father in a new light, and in their own lives, look not only at family in better spirit, but also the other members of society. This is all done with the simple and vivid images of Gray, by where he influences the reader, to take a new prospective on the everyday experiences of life.
In conclusion, Gray has used the images in his poems, to directly change the view of the reader. Not a view on an opinion, but on the everyday experiences such as travel, work and family. These can directly be seen to be effective, due to the reader looking at the characters in the poems in a new light, but also extending this to the lives after the poem, where the reader lives.