In Australian Literature today we explored the themes that arise from the line from Judith Wright’s poem “Rockface” in which she declares “the remnant of a mountain has its own meaning”. This image from Russel Drysdale’s Desert Landscape captures similar resonances to Judith Wright’s poem:
Drysdale, like Judith Wright seems to honour the dignity of this rock: it has a place, a purpose, a meaning. Drysdale uses earthy, indigenous colours to make his point. We had an interesting discussion about this poem in the lecture and you can hear the whole lecture right here.
The tutorial that followed focussed chiefly on Marcus Clarke’s paragraph from his essay on Adam Lindsay Gordon in which he describes the shifts in attitude in Australia to the landscape over the first hundred years of occupation. He then also predicts where these attitudes will lead in the future.
Here is the passage:
Marcus Clarke was first to prophesy a changing attitude to the Australian landscape in his preface to Adam Lindsay Gordon’s book, “Poems.”
In Australia alone is to be found the Grotesque, the Weird, the strange scribblings of Nature learning how to write. Some see no beauty in our trees without shade, our flowers without perfume, our birds who cannot fly, and our beasts who have not yet learned to walk on all fours. But the dweller in the wilderness acknowledges the subtle charm of this fantastic land of monstrosities. He becomes familiar with the beauty of loneliness. Whispered to by the myriad tongues of the wilderness, he learns the language of the barren and the uncouth, and can read the hieroglyphics of haggard gum-trees, blown into odd shapes, distorted with fierce hot winds, or cramped with cold nights, when the Southern Cross freezes in a cloudless sky of icy blue. The phantasmagoria of that wild dreamland termed the Bush interprets itself, and the Poet of our desolation begins to comprehend why free Esau loved his heritage of desert sand better than all the bountiful richness of Egypt.
(Clarke, Marcus. “Preface.” Poems, by Adam Gordon Lindsay, Melbourne: A. H. Massinna, 1893. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/258/258-h/258-h.htm.)
Listen to our discussion on this right here.
And here are the white board images from two of our tutorials today: