There are many ways that the poets use language to depict nature under threat. From the depiction of classical ‘gods’ as nature’s representatives in Boey Kim Cheang’s sonnet, to the amount of imagery and descriptive language in Gillian Clarke’s. The poets turn the English language into a weapon, a weapon they use to herald a message that they insist, cannot be ignored. Using words, they create a painting of the damage that we do to our planet. In their poems they show us visions of our bleak future.
They call out again and again to us to listen and hear their message, for soon, it may become too late. Gillian’s message is presented in the form of a sorrowful song. The main focus of her poem, Lament, seems to be oil and it’s effects on the environment. There are many references to it, one such is “the cormorant in her funeral silk. ” This line of the poem implies that oil is destructive to the fauna of the air. In fact, the oil coating the feather’s of the cormorant will bring about a slow death. Another reference to animals in the poem is the “.. whale struck dumb… “.
This suggests that it’s not only the fauna of air that are effected, it implies that it’s also the animals of the sea that are affected by the oil spill ( this was learnt from the line, “the shadow on the sea. “) Should the reader look between the lines of this poem, they would find many hidden messages. Yet, what makes this poem so powerful is the imagery in it. As the audience reads it, the vivid descriptions and the uses of the funereal language evokes a sense of sorrow. Gillian laments the loss of peace, the loss of the wildlife (that were destroyed in the Gulf War, the Gulf war reference is “For Ahmed…
“, Ahmed being the representative of the innocents caught in the cross fire. ), and the damage we humans inflicted on the ozone – “the blackened sun”. This concern over the environment is also seen in Boey Kim Cheang’s poem, Report to Wordsworth. Report to Wordsworth has a very personal feel to it, starting with the wording of the first line, where the emphasis is placed on the word you -“you should be here, nature has need of you… “. The audience will see his double meaning on this line as “you” could address Wordsworth or the reader. Another use of language is the amount of metaphors that are laced into the piece.
One such metaphor is “… sky slowing like a dying clock. ” This really is a quote to make one think. The thought of the sky slowing to a stop is horrifying in a sense. The sky stopping would mean that we, as humans, have done the worst possible damage to our planet. It implies that we have wounded our planet so that even the constant turn of our planet has stopped due the amount of chaos humans cause. Another chilling reference to this is “… God is struggling to utter his last cry. “. This line would truly make the audience question the human way.
The idea of us killing omnipotent beings ( the others being “Prometheus”, “Poseidon” and “Triton”) implies that humans do not know the true amount of power that they posses. Through his lines he calls a warning. Contain the power, lest we destroy our world. The two poems are rich in symbolism. Gillian describes the earth as a “nest of sickness”. This is almost oxymoronic because we see nests as places of safety and fertility. To say a nest is a “nest of sickness” and use that to represent the earth, gives the reader the impression that the Earth has gone from a place of fertility to a place of death and destruction.
This is once again emphasised in the line ” The long migration and the slow dying”. In the line before she refers to various migratory seabirds, all of which travel to their southern breeding grounds in the spring. The term “slow dying”, is ironic because once again, a place of growth has turned into a place of death. This implies that we are turning the earth into a barren wasteland. An example of symbolism in Report to Wordsworth is “… wound widening… “. He uses this to describe the hole in the ozone. Calling the ozone hole a widening wound implies that we have been repeatedly striking at the sky.
This line almost condemns us humans and gnaws at our conscience. Still, the message is there, calling to humans, telling them to stop. Nature is under threat. Both poets depict nature under threat through their use of words. They use a variety of techniques such as symbolism, imagery and metaphors to create a flow. Yet, while the words may fade and the poem washes away, their message remains. Their message that warns us of impending doom that would surely come, if we don’t take heed. They are masters of language, their tools of choice are pen and paper and using these tools they create an art. An image of death and destruction lingers.