Archive | April 2016

Peer Review #4

Peer Review – Anastasia Modderno

“I wholly agree with you on the notion that we are looking through the perspectives of the sun and stars, which highlights that people are all the same. Though we all may appear different, at the core, we are all still human. I do also think that because we are in the perspectives of such large and great celestial bodies, it highlights the fact that people are also small parts of a much bigger world, let alone the universe. In this way, the first part of the poem that speaks about what is considered “honourable” can be considered foolish and even trivial. I do feel that also in that sense, Gilmore is trying to convey that to people – that we are the same, and doing these things such as war and praising scars for possibly killing or even hurting someone else, is definitely not the way to go.”

Week 7 Reflection



During analysis between both poems during the tutorial on Friday, the idea of contrasting was very present.

The use of contrast in a work of literature tends to vary.  Sometimes it is used to highlight a point by demonstrating the differences between two things.  Other times it’s used to try and make the reader ponder over things.

Both Mary Gilmore’s “The Measure” and Bernard O’Dowd’s “Australia” include contrasting two very different things.  However, the use of contrasts is used for different effects.

For instance, in “The Measure,” contrasts are used to highlight the sense of needless brutality and chaos.  The first four lines of the first two stanzas contrast against the remaining four.  Let us take a look at this stanza as an example:

“These are the days of all men’s tears–
Tears like the endless drop that wears
The rock, and rusts the steel, and frets the bones
Of dead men lying under stones:
And yet, the stars look on the earth
As in the hour of Christ His birth,
And see, not friend and foe, but man and man
As when these years began.”

During the tutorial on Friday, I personally thought that the “tears” and “drops” being mentioned in the first two lines was the rain.  With the use of celestial bodies (stars and the sun), I thought that the rain could be considered “the tears of Heaven.”  In works associating more divine aspects, such as the story of Altair and Vega, rain is used to describe the celestial being’s tears.

Plus, it contrasts well with the second part of the stanza.  Tears are usually associated with sadness.  Considering the stanza’s grim and serious line of imagery, tears being used for sadness would fit.  However, at the same time, tears can be cried in happiness.  This would also fit with the second part of the stanza where a child is born (the birth of Christ being a joyous event in particular).  Conclusively, the stanza highlights the contrasts between a time of mourning and a time of happiness, but at the core, the one who experiences both are still people.  To the very core.

In “Australia” though, the whole poem consists of contrasts.  Take these lines in the first stanza for example:

“Last sea-thing dredged by sailor Time from Space,
Are you a drift Sargasso, where the West
In halcyon calm rebuilds her fatal nest?
Or Delos of a coming Sun-God’s race?”

A Sargasso, as explained in a glossary during the tutorial, is a fancy word for a piece of seaweed.  The first three lines describe something minuscule and ineffective.  Just a floating mass that is floating along in a world filled with dangers.  But the last line mentions Delos.  Delos is a Greek island that is associated with the Delphic oracles who were under the Greek sun god, Apollo.

These contrasts are used to describe the country of Australia itself.  They fluctuate between describing Australia as a treacherous land of dread, to a land of promise and fruition.  This can be seen to reflect the attitudes of the European settlers who came to Australia.  Some were interested in the land and saw its potentials (albeit for utilitarian needs) while others were homesick when they saw a barren land.

Something that struck me while reading this poem again was this.  There is a huge contrast with O’Dowd’s interpretations himself.  What does he truly think of Australia? Another question that got to me is what was his point of writing this poem? It could be seen as him genuinely questioning what Australia really was, or it could be him purposely just writing the poem in amusement since it seems to combine both aspects.  That yes, it is dangerous if you do not have any knowledge or care to bother knowing about it, but it also has much potential.

That saying so, when it comes to the future of Australia itself and whether or not any prediction O’Dowd made are fulfilled or not, will need further analysis.

Where O’Dowd makes a sort of prediction can be primarily seen in the last four lines of stanza one.

“Are you for Light, and trimmed, with oil in place,
Or but a Will o’ Wisp on marshy quest?
A new demesne for Mammon to infest?
Or lurks millennial Eden ‘neath your face?”

Mammon is associated with the vice of greed.  It is the embodiment of the evil influences and coveting of wealth.  These last four lines place forth the question on whether Australia is a land of growing potential that will be a paradise, or if it is simply an illusion and simply become another piece of land run by wealth and greed.

That leaves the question: is Austalia a place of greed and wealth? Is O’Dowd correct with this prediction? How about whether or not Australia can be considered a land of potential and promise? A paradise, even?

Well, yes and no.

It all truly depends on the individual and where you go to.  It is true that wealth and money tend to run the world, but it does not necessarily dominate a person’s mind.  Give a person the option to choose between either the self-beneficial or benevolent choices, and again, you will have to consider other factors.


Peer Review #3

Peer Review – Andrew Giammarco

“I actually never thought about it before, but your description of the painting really brings to light how posed the families look. The postures don’t look so genuine and do not give a true impression of a family photo or portrait. This definitely fits with the notion of assimilation that the Aborigines had to go through in order to “fit in.” The lack of shoes is however that one thing that makes them truly “fit in” with their own culture while at the same time opposing that of the society that tries to pose them and make them “fit in” to what they think is a respectable society.

The lack of other inhabitants also gives a big sense of isolation which they must have felt during those times. The vast negative space in the second painting really hammers the message of emptiness, and thus conveys loneliness.

A really great review. Good job.”

Intended disparateness in works by Russell Drysdale

Quietness and Bell-Birds

Charles Harpur’s “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest” (1851) and Henry Kendall’s “Bell-Birds” (1869) both speak about nature.  However, nature has different things to offer.

Though both are appreciative of Mother Nature, the tone for each gives different insight for each poet’s feelings.  In the third stanza of “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest,” Harpur describes the insect in very flattering terms likened to jewels or more expensive items.  For instance, describing the beetle as having a marking of a “vermeil-crusted seal.”  A seal is used to close a letter by having an emblem impressed into wax.  Most of the time, seals were used to authenticate documents.  In that respect, they’d be seen to signify something important.  The verb “gleam” is also used twice in regard to the beetle as it moves and flies.  To “gleam” is to shine brightly.  Such a word is commonly used in reference to jewels and precious stones.  Not long after, the final line of the stanza mentions such: “Its shards flame out like gems on fire.”

Meanwhile, with Kendall, he compares the bell-birds to fairies.  Fairies are usually portrayed as being playful yet pretty and delicate creatures.  By doing so, the birds are also anthropomorphized with the line, “They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle.”  With the line, “the darlings of daytime,” compared to Harpur, the bell-birds are described with a more personal term of endearment.  Since “darling” is a term that is only used for a loved one or someone close.

Both poets use personification in their pieces, though express different kinds of personalities.  Harpur personifies the silence itself, along with the river and the season of summer.  Meanwhile, Kendall personifies the month of October in the third stanza.  Additionally, Harpur’s personification of the silence with terms like “broods” and “reigns,” gives the impression that silence is a composed yet dominant figure.  Whereas with the personification of October, it is described as being, “the maiden of bright yellow tresses,” and “loiters knee-deep in the grasses to listen.”   

The final stanza of each poem is where the feelings of each poet towards nature is brought forth.  Harpur’s last stanza is brief, which contrasts with the word

Harpur’s last stanza is brief, which contrasts with the word “muse” that is used there.  To “muse” means to be absorbed in thought, say to oneself in a thoughtful manner, or to gaze thoughtfully at.  In Friday’s tutorial, it was discussed that the word “muse” could be taken from the nine Muses in Greek mythology.  The Muses were daughters of Zeus, and each presided with an art or science.  A muse is also a source of inspiration for an artist.  With Harpur’s previous stanzas about nature, that can be seen as his musing.  Hence, he did not need to speak a lot of nature’s splendour in his final stanza.

Meanwhile, in Kendall’s last stanza, it is more personal with the pronoun “I” being used, along with the line, “pain of my losses.”  With the stanza being roughly the same length as the previous ones, this seems like a true  mental reflection.  Though what Kendall has lost is debatable.  During Friday’s tutorial, it was mused that perhaps Kendall had lost his inspiration and his passion or he simply cannot find it now that he lives in the city.  However, another thing that I thought of was that perhaps Kendall is homesick.  The line, “They sing in September their songs of the May-time.”  Though this sounds strange at first, in Australia, September is a month in Spring.  However in England, Spring is set in May.  It is already known by now that the settlers that came to Australia were primarily from England and letters were not really dependable sources for current events.  Since if you retrieved a letter now, the event might have been done weeks or even months ago.  This line, Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters” even possibly signifies that the bell-birds are not only a source of comfort but also a replacement.

In conclusion, both poets have an appreciation and admiration of nature, but in different ways.  Harpur seems to be fascinated with the power of silence, as well as making the smallest and even (subjectively) most unappealing of creatures sound desirable. Kendall meanwhile has a more personal attachment to nature and appears to use it as a means of comfort.  This is particularly seen with his endearing tone towards the bell-birds and their songs.

Peer Review #2

Peer Review – Rachel Barker

“I wholly agree about your analysis on this painting – that despite its initially harsh and rugged appearance, there is a certain beauty that will only be admired if you take a closer look and go past the normal perception of beauty. Comparing this painting in particular to others really makes it all the more unique as well: especially if you compare this tree in Lister’s painting to that of the ones in Glover. The ones in Glover’s are sleek, elegant and even soft, yet they are only part of the background. Here with Lister, the tree is the subject, and stands strong, tall and proud: even like a person, which could even give the tree some notion of personification.”

Art Gallery of NSW Visit

Expressing Through Art

When it comes to expressing themes, thoughts and themes, art is one good way to showcase such.

A constant theme in regards to Aboriginal literature is the notion of people’s feelings and views towards the land.  As time goes on, however, and depending on the viewer, the expression and thoughts towards the land tend to change.

(John Glover, Patterdale Farm)

For instance, in the painting above, it conveys the artists (Glover’s) piece of Australian property.  A very far shot conveying a fertile, green land where animals graze, and the skies are blue.  In many ways, it is quite similar to that of the lush greenery of that in Europe.  The trees are also willowy and elegant – nothing at all like how the eucalyptus trees appear.

Compare such a picture with this one.

(W. Lister, “The Golden Splendour of the Bush”)

Here, we see that the tree is no longer long and sleek, but rather twisted and more gnarly.  The trunk is wider, and it appears strong instead of soft.  It is also the central focus of the painting – commanding the viewer’s eyes to fix it.  Also in contrast to Glover’s paintings, the landscape shows that the earth is in disarray with twigs and scattered branches, and there is not much great light.  The tree is shrouded slightly in the shadow.

However, if we go by the name of the piece, the artist is shown to have admiration for this tree even calling it a “splendour” whereas the previous painter seemed too homesick to try and appreciate the bush with its own beauty.  With the tree being in shadow and the painting having an overall darker light, it conveys the message that the bush and wilderness is not as safe and can even be dangerous.  However at the same time, within its own differences and dangers, there is an allure to it.  A different kind of beauty to be admired.

In effect, this reflects the views of the European settlement in Australia.  At first, many were dismissive of the harsher terrain and were pining for their own.  Hence, why we see in Glover’s painting a more lush, green and even soft land for comfort that is not only “beautiful” for them to look at, but also useful for cattle.  However, as times go by, the land’s own unique beauty starts to get admired as shown in Lister’s painting that presents the gum tree as a strong, tall and proud subject for the viewer to peer at.