The ‘North Coast’ Allusions

Week 3

What did I do?

Read Article

The class read the article Least Known Bird Has Been Found (2010) and discussed the necessity of context. As any documented form is created from the perspective of a single, or a collection of, persons the context of those person(s) is necessary for their work to be understood by an audience. In the case of the article, we, the readers, had very limited knowledge of the species of birds and ornithology and therefore, our understanding of the text was limited. We were able, however, to relate the times and locations of the events described to the best of our own knowledge and could therefore understand some aspects of the overall setting. We also discussed the language of the text, which was an unorganised mix of the formal and informal (colloquial) – an attempt to appeal to a broader audience rather simply those of the appropriate profession. For this reason, the author would use terms such as “which is a big deal” and “extremely important” in order to impress their own subjective view of the subject’s importance. And, being an article aimed at those less educated in the topic of ornithology, the article also lacks in technical descriptions and evidence to back up the facts that were included.

Context of Robert Gray

We watched a panel interview with Robert Gray on Youtube. Gray described his poetry-loving, word-playing father and his Protestant, faithful mother. He spoke about his philosophy, his aim in writing poetry, his influences and what he hopes to convey to his audience. He described his early working life, including the eighteen years that he worked at a book store, with free reign of the stock range, the the ability to influence the literary choices of the customers and to read whatever he pleased. Both his philosophy and poetry are influenced by Japanese and Chinese culture and Buddhism

“Something that is unchanging would be nothing” “Something that is changing all the time is rich and plural and fascinating.”

“I think that Buddhism is pessimistic. I think it’s realised the sadness of the world and it doesn’t try to run away from it. It maintains the contact with the fact that life is disappointing and distracting and we lose all that we value.” “I think that it’s important to accept that life is disappointing.”

“I am trying to give consolation through this awareness of nature. … That momentary awareness is something that I try to capture to show people were they’ll find consolation: they’ll find consolation in ordinary things.” “Because life is changing all the time.” “When we are sad we shouldn’t cling to the fact that we are sad we should allow that these changes – the world – is releasing us from our sadness all the time with the next moment.”


“Writing becomes inward. Drawing is like going out into the world again. It’s like going outdoors. I return to words freshened with a determination to relate them closer to things, not to be caught up in opaque and self-absorbed language.”


Gray states that he has found inspiration in nature since his childhood. His works are, in a way, a rebirth of the Romantic ideals; he is “Romanticising Australia“.


We read Journey the North Coast by Robert Gray. This poem follows the end of a journey long-awaited by the participant, a man who had been in the city for “twelve months”. Gray uses a range of multi-sensory imagery as well as other techniques to skillfully describe the landscape passing by in what he makes the reader initially believe is a boat but in what is actually a train. His allusion to famous Modernist artworks – Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) by Marcel Duchamp and what I think is a reference to Girl Before a Mirror (1932) by Pablo Picasso – and Contemporary artists Christo and Jean-Claude, in the third stanza, aids his descriptions of the landscape in a dream-like manner. The rhythm of the poem is reflective of the experience of being on a train (more specifically a steam train) on a long journey as the heavy body that is the train carriage passes rather unsubtly over tracks. Gray’s use of free verse impacts the multi-sensory imagery; he does not limit his description to suit a existing format. He uses internal rhyme to achieve the audible effect of being on a train in the reading of the poem, while the visual effect of the poem also leads to the same assumption. He makes frequent use of enjambment and is able to enhance the description of an object through these pauses.

Journey the North Coast displays discovery in the form of: -rediscovering something forgotten (“bright crockery days”) or concealed (“press the latches”)    -emotionally and spiritually fresh and intensely meaningful discovery (“sunlight rotating off the drab carpet” “I rise”)        -the impact of discovery may vary from different social contexts and values (“The man’s gone who had the bunk below me. I swing out,”).



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