Comment on the ways Nature has been explored in ‘Lament’ and ‘Report to Wordsworth’.
In Lament, the poet describes the effect of the Gulf War upon the surrounding ecosystem and environment by effective imagery, repetition and listing. Similarly, in Report to Wordsworth, the poet illustrates the plight of the world worsening with time using the assistance of imageries, similes, and references to Greek and Roman mythology.
Lament is a eulogy for the damage inflicted upon Nature as an effect of the Gulf War. The speaker describes the devastating effect of the Gulf War upon the environment and the animals. More emphasis is laid upon the suffering of the animals, especially migratory birds that go through ‘long migrations’ only to be the unsuspecting victims of ‘slow dying’.
Report to Wordsworth is a sonnet by Boey Kim Cheng written in answer to Wordsworth’s sonnet ‘The World is too Much With Us’. It serves as a comparison to the situation of the world then and now. It illustrates the effect of man’s intensifying drive towards success and progress and how Nature is being compromised over development.
In Lament ,by repetition of the word ‘for’, the speaker emphasizes and reinforces the grief and suffering of the animals. The mention of the ‘green turtle’ already an endangered species, being forced to lay her ‘pulsing burden’ which adds to her misery in a ‘nest of sickness’ presents an ironic image that elicits sympathy from the reader as the word ‘nest’ is usually associated with safety and protection. In lament, the huge oil spills that took place during the war are alluded to by as the ‘veil of iridescence’ on the sand, the ‘shadow on the sea’ and the ‘mortal stain’ upon the ocean. Birds such as the cormorant suffer from this contamination as it serves as their ‘funeral silk’, making their feathers stick together and rendering them incapable of flight ‘Missile’s thunder’ is an auditory image that strikes the whale ‘dumb’ illustrating the intensity of the sound and hurt that shook the countries, striking a large mammal speechless. Hyperbolized images of the world’s suffering are presented in the last stanza by the words’ burnt earth’, which connotes that the earth ahs almost entirely been wasted away. ‘sun put out’ is a hyperbolized image of the rising clouds of smoke from the ‘blazing well’, which connotes the extinction of resources, that are so dense and numerous that they block out the sun form view-giving the reader an exaggerated but nevertheless effective image of the waste the land was laid to. The marine life suffered the most during the war as connoted by the phrase ‘scalded ocean’-the highest degree of burns or damage fell upon the marine life. Listing is used in the 5th stanza to list all the animals, marine and migratory birds that suffer, which moves the lines quicker and the blows are struck quickly and suddenly
The speaker in Report to Wordsworth starts the poem by personifying Nature to be in great ‘need’ for the poet of nature to come and rescue her as she has been ‘put to waste’, in a far more worse condition than before. The flowers are described as ‘mute’ ,’smothered’ by the smog that suppresses them and contrasts with their delicate vulnerability, silencing the bright, cheerful song of spring. The birds have started to die, they are ‘few’ in number as the heavy blanket of smog in the sky is suffocating and choking them up. The life of the sky is slowly draining out of it, as shown by the simile ;slowing like a dying clock’ connoting that the smog is such a dense obstruction in the sky that the sun is blocked out-similar to the absence of light in Lament. Both the poems have reference to water pollution. The former mentions and alleviates the water pollution by referring to mythological gods of the sea. Proteus suffers by being ‘entombed’ in the waste ‘we dump’ signifying human carelessness towards Nature. Oil spills are also referred to here with the mention of Triton’s ‘dazed eyes’ giving the reader an idea of the enormity of the waste. Neptune, is as ‘helpless as a bleached whale’, a helpless simile full of despair as it degrades the god from the ruler of the sea to one of those ruthlessly hunted. Action words as such as ‘sunk’, ’dump’, ’struggle’ show the extent of the catastrophe that has befallen Nature.. This adds to the aura of helplessness and despair of the poem as all things signal towards an end-Nature is depicted as losing heavily against humans who want to conquer it in their drive for madness to fulfill their new definitions of success. Mankind’s full and worst exploitation of Nature is expressed in this poem with reference to a battle of Divinity Vs. Mankind, which the gods seem to be losing, The poem is concluded with a couplet that tops off the despair by talking of ‘widening wound’ in the sky that represents the harm and damage man has administered to Nature ,being gathered and penetrating even the stronghold of the gods on Mount Olympus, resultantly, making God ‘labour’. ‘last cry’ is a connotation towards God’s last attempt to counteract the damage afflicted to Nature and the world in the ending battle between Man and Divinity.
In both the poems, damage afflicted on Nature at the cost of human activity is illustrated vividly with the help of hyperbole, imagery, personification and other language devices. However, in Lament , the speaker represents the damage that can be mended over time. While Report to Wordsworth deals with the consequence of the culmination of acts as such as the Gulf war and ‘insatiate’ man’s obliviousness to all ways of amending to the damage inflicted which is the apocalypse-or the end of the world with the defeat of Nature and the gods. The latter presents a more gloomy and despairing view of man’s deteriorating relationship with Nature.
Cooperative Learning Activity by:
Class of 2011