Robert Gray Poem Analysis According to Rubric Journey: The North Coast In Journey: The North Coast, the persona gradually rediscovers the familiar landscape of the northern New South Wales coast. This process, in turn, leads to a confronting and powerful rediscovery of previously-held values and perceptions. Gray plants the concept of inner transformation from the very first sentence: “Next thing, I wake up in a swaying bunk”. Here, the unnatural starting preposition of “next” creates a fast-paced atmosphere, foreshadowing the persona’s own transformative movement and growth throughout the poem. His “swaying bunk” further conveys uneasy movement, and how the speaker is powerless in his journey as he propels controllably towards his destination. Here, Gray reflects here his uneasy feelings about moving out at a young age, and living off the land in north coast Queensland towns. The speaker then re-evaluates his perceptions of natural life as he looks out his train window and rediscovers the ‘bright crockery day from so much I recall’. The peculiar use of the noun “crockery” as an adjective emphasizes his newfound nostalgia for his home. Furthermore, the extensive use of light and colour imagery in the “red banks” and “flakes of light”; as well as the allusion to Marcel Duchamp’s (1912 cubist, futurist painting) ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’, altogether depict a stop-motion-like image of the landscape as opposed to the train, representing the persona’s shift away from a materialist outlook on life. Following Marcel Duchamp’s surrealist image, the persona’s world becomes increasingly fractured and disturbed as he realizes he craves more than a static, picturesque memory of the landscape. This occurs in the line “and now the country bursts open on the sea”, where the immediacy of the journey increases once again though the proposition “now”. This time, the rapid succession contributes to the persona’s state of ecstasy. His elation also climaxes due to the unlikely combination of manmade and natural as the light “makes the compartment whirl”, “shuttering shadows”. The renewed perception of the persona’ self as a result of ecstasy is represented through the line “I rise to the mirror rested”, suggesting that the effect of the discoveries in the poem has an impact on the individual, but also through reading the poem, we come to the realization that nature, solitude and reflection may be a necessary restorative process for the people in our culture. The poem ends in an effort to exert order and control with the speaker methodically packing his things, returning to the comparatively ordered and bland memory of his “twelve months… in a furnished room”. This response, whilst seemingly a desire to retreat from discoveries made, actually an acceptance of natural life by ‘packing away’ his city self as he ‘stows[s] the book and wash-bag/ and city clothes.” Thus, the speaker and, by extension, the responder comes to understand that our past
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- One '14
- Port Jackson, Robert Gray