Judith Wright
In reference to Judith Wright’s poetry as being of a unique and distinctive style, in particular Wright is well known for her use of two subjects, that being the ‘Australian aspect’ where in her work she commonly relates to the old traditional style of Australia’s history and the harsh landscape that is well known as an Australian trait. Three examples of this distinctive style of
writing is ‘Remittance Man’, ‘South of my Days’ and ‘Legend’. The other of Wright’s favoured
topics is the ‘Womens view’ or the feminist side of life, in which Wright creatively relays the
way a women perceives certain aspects of a subject compared to that of a man. there is also the
clear presence in all her feminist poems the indication of the womens traditional role in society
today and in particular the past. Three examples of this style is ‘Women to Man’, ‘To Another
Housewife’ and ‘Eve to her Daughters’.
Whilst all of Wright’s poetry has it’s own way of giving the lasting impression of these two
aspects, in particular the poem Remittance Man stands out clearly in my mind as one of Wright’s
most qualified examples of the Australian style. Even in the opening lines of this poem there is
the subtle indication of that impression that Wright so strongly feels for Australia and the people,
‘The spendthrift, disinherited and graceless’ this English outcast i.e The Remittance Man, has no
real class or presence of a respectable character, yet these three dishonorable words refer directly
to that almost traditional idea of what the Australian man was in the past. Once it is established
that this Remittance Man is not wanted in England however happily retreats to the shores of
Australia and finds self contentment with this almost opposite lifesyle where he feels no
jugdement is put on him, no more restrictions or unacceptable behaivour that he so frequently
disgraced his family with.
The main ideas of this poem is the constant comparison between the cold, formal aspect of
England to the harsh, laid back way of Australia, which is still a commonly perceived way that is
seen today. In the first stanza the line ‘backtracks in the summer haze’ gives the instant idea of
the Australian landscape that shows Wright’s direct idea of what she distinguishes this as. This is
just the first in a numerous amount of lines that account for the typical view of Australia. There is
also a strong sense that Australia is the favoured compared to that of England, not just by the
Remittance Man but in Particular through the writing Wright’s opinion seems clear, which is also
justified in her other Australian poems. Though England seems to have no real qualities in this
poem there is also subtle criticism to the refined English culture that Australians ironically are
renound to be the complete opposite in manner and in the social ettiquette that exists strongly in
England.
However once the English aspect is left behind The Remittance Man abandons his old life and is
released from the formal ties he hated so much. The ‘blind-drunk sprees’ were in the past and the
‘track to escape to nowhere’ was everything that Australia could offer him. Yet Wright still
cleverly intervenes with his memories of shame that presented the English ‘pale stalk of a wench’
which was replaced by ‘black Mary’s eyes’ the indication of an Aboriginal. The constant contrast
of the two opposites is referred to throughout the entire poem showing the powerful idea that
Wright is putting to her readers. The images of the landscape are also one of Wright’s strong
passions that she refers to countlessly particularly the Australian landscape. All of Wright’s
Australian poems reflect the heritage and nature that is of Australia, there is also the use of the
past to show the traditional role that is what our country is well known for. In particular in this
poem the strong conflicting nature of England and Australia show the ironic twist that history
shows that Australia was where all the convicts were deported to from England however in the
Remittance Man’s mind this was his ticket to paradise.
The rugged beauty of the Australian environmement is where the Remittance Man finally lays to
rest, ‘That harsh biblical country of the scapegoat’. Though the Remittence Man found his
hapiness and self satisfaction this was not seen by those of his family, in particular, the Squire his
brother feels a vague sense of care for his brother that he feels has led a shameful and wasted life.
This ending for the poem leaves the reader in a neutral state of mind where there is an unsureness
of hapiness or rather should it be questioned that this Remittance Man was a failure and never
amounted to anything, however jugdement of this character is of only some importance the main
idea is to identify Wright’s image of her faint indication through the poem that she feels more for
Australia than that of England.
On the other side of Wright’s common topic used in her poetry as referred to earlier is her role of
women, where she presents there view, there understandings of life, the feminist touch, and
submissive attitudes all in contrast to that of man. Yet Wright does not always show favoritism
towards her female characters they too are just as fallable as man. In which sense women are
presented in what seems an unbiased way to the reader where Wright does not always attack the
male characteristics. A perfect example of this idea is the poem ‘Eve to her Daughter’s’ where
Wright once again sets the poem in the past yet uses modern implications to bring the reader
through time from past to present, all this is cleverly presented in a monologue style that seems
so simple yet from it derives a complex idea. That being ‘The Fall of Man’.
From the beginning of the poem where there is an instant indication of someone at blame with
the opening line ‘It was not I who began it’ where Eve is beginning to tell her side of the story as
to explain her theory as to why humans are where we are today. From the first stanza there is the
strong indication of both what is seen as the male and female traits through history i.e ‘where
Adam went I was fairly contented to go’ showing the male dominance, and ‘I adapted myself to
the punishment: it was my life’ showing the submissive nature of women.
Right from the beginning starts the pattern to explain why mans ego is not one of his best
qualities, Eve presents this through many examples. Once they are cast out from their perfect
haven into reality ther is a strong anger felt by Adam, To him God had no right to possess this
higher status until Adam develops the theory that Eden is now just an unproven dream along with
God where neither can be demonstrated therefore they cannot exist. Adam has a strong
resentment to the fact that ‘the seasons changed and the game was fleet-footed’. There is now a
notion that Adam must satisfy his aim to rebuild his Garden of Eden and at the same time
subconciously it could be seen that he is rebuilding his ego.
So from the religous figure Adam became a scientist where mechanism was the whole secret.
The knowlegde that he gained which presented a feeling of power only inflated his destructive
ego where he created a world of ‘central heating, domesticated animals, mechanical harvesters,
combustion engines, escalators, refrigerators, and modern means of communication’ where at
present not all creations have improved our world. Though from all of this Eve stood by and
followed Adam every step of the way, she may not have always agreed but at the same time never
had the ability to stand up to Adam’s aggresive nature that she weakened to. Yet as history has it
the modernisations that exist to date have not satisfied Adam where the simplicity of Eden still is
what Adam desires most.
Yet Adam does not accept this he now believes that he understands all so therefore he must be
God, however Eve puts forward that if Adam equals God and God doesn’t exist then neither does
Adam. Although this is all logical the male pride denies any acceptance of this theory. From Eves
perspective where she is telling the daughters of the world i.e all women of the world she is
questioning and also stating that it is time for women to stand up and take over, as our future if it
follows pattern looks bleak.
From the last few stanzas of the poem it could now be seen as the ideas from Wright’s own
personal view on the matter rather than Eve. ‘perhaps nothing exists but our faults? at least they
can be demonstrated’ this theory is in itself a jugdement of the poem which can be seen as
ajugdement of man kind. The complex idea that Wright presents is not first indicated from the
simple style and structure of the poem, however once it is understood that there is a strong
concept and message within the reader sees the notion that Wright is putting forward ‘ all that is
perfect is unproven therefore possibly never existed i.e Garden of Eden.
On the whole of Wright’s poetry There is a clear presence of her love for the Australian
landscape in which the continuous reference to particular Australian plants only show more
clearly how her strong interest for this country is what she enjoys expressing and the favoured
view of females rather than that of a man. Not that there is more criticism placed on man than
women, there is simply a strong and realistic truth about what Wright shows as the role of both
man and women and then the consequences that result from both their characters. Whilst the
poems in particular reference ‘The Remittance Man’ and ‘Eve to her Daughters’ are perfect
examples to express these two ideas as well as show the distinctive way that Wright presents her
work.

 
 
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    Some topics in this essay  
 
    God God | Judith Wright’s | Remittance Man’s | Remittance England | Garden Eden | Fall Man’ | England English | Whilst Wright’s | Eden Wright’s | England Wright’s | wright’s poetry | australian landscape | landscape wright’s | australian landscape wright’s | wright putting | idea australian | complex idea | garden eden | ‘eve daughters’ | poem subtle | particular poem |  
   
 
 
 
 
   
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