From poetry journal to close reading Essay Example

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Judith Wright’s poem, “The Surfer” is about how a young surfer is passionate about spending his day riding the waves. The poem provides a chronological order of how the state of the sea changes from being enjoyable to a monstrous state which is equated with a snarling wolf (Meyer, 73). Initially the poem shows that the young man enjoys surfing but later on the painful experience of surfing is brought out where the surfer slides through “hawthorn hedges in spring and there are thorns stinging her face”. The poem begins and ends at the sea making it typically Australian as it portrays the Australian connection to the sea and the beach.

The first stanza of the poem shows how the youth love to enjoy themselves even when alone. The first stanza takes a very joyful tone. It provides a description of the Persona as young and strong; “How his brown strength drove through weirs of water” (Wright). The poem is brought to the audience from an observer’s point of view that shows admiration for the surfer’s youth and strength as he enjoys the surf. Wright shapes the surfer as a typical Australian describing him as “brown” and with muscular arms (Wilson). The description of the surfer shows he is a carefree character who is not aware that the sea he enjoys so much could turn against him. The alliteration “mortal, masterful” shows Wright’s admiration of the surfer clearly. The author uses the imagery of the gull to show the excitement of the swimmer; “the gulls went wheeling in the air as he in water, with delight” (Wright). The first stanza portrays a surfer who is happy and close to the sea and describes his physical actions and his emotions as he enjoys his hobby. The closeness to the sea is shown by how the physical actions of the man rhyme with the sea; “muscle of the arm down the long muscle of water” (Wright). A reader can sense the exhilaration of the surfer through the use of words like “joy” or “Delight”. Exclamation is also used widely in the first paragraph to convey the exhilaration as in “gulls went wheeling” showing the glee of the flying birds (Draper, 61).

In the second stanza the tone of the poem changes with passage of time around the sea. In this stanza the tone changes to that of caution and wariness. The observer urges the swimmer to turn home and end his closeness to the sea (Beston, 63). Concerned that the young man may be harmed by the sea, the observer instructs him to be wary of the sea. A simile is used to further instruct the swimmer to return to the beach where it is safe; “come to the long beach like a gull diving” (Wright). Symbolism is also employed to show the changing mood “gold vanishes” symbolizes the sea is no longer enjoyable. Rhyming words in this part are used to show the urgency of the action needed of the surfer when getting out of the sea; “curve and serve” (Wright).

By the third stanza the tone of the poem has changed from the excitement of the beginning to somber mood signifying danger. The sea at this point is described as a “grey wolf sea lies, snarling” (Wright). In this stanza the danger of the sea is portrayed through personification; “worry in their wolf teeth” show the author’s concern if the young surfer was still in the sea when it becomes violent (Wright). In this stanza Judith talks of the sea with reverence showing its power to take life at will; “drops there and snatches again, drops and again snatches” (Wright). She shows the sea has already had a devastating effect as by using the word “broken toys” (Wright). The use of broken toys seems to warn the young surfer that the sea has the power to break him over and over again.

Judith Wright’s poem the “the surfer” presents two perspectives of the sea as it is perceived by Australian (Wilson, 3). Some people think of the sea as a place of enjoyment while others are aware of the dangers of having a carefree attitude towards the sea. The poem starts with the carefree enjoyment of the sea “as he is in water, with delight”. To a mood of concern and caution; “the sun goes down; swimmer, turn home. Lastly, the poem ends with a mood of encroaching danger; “the grey sea-wolf lies, snarling, cold twilight winds splits their waves”. The poem warns people who are passionate about surfing and the sea to be also cautious of the sea’s power to take life.

Works Cited

Beston, John B. «Judith wright’s.» Southerly 34.1 (1974): 63.

Draper, Ronald P. An introduction to twentieth-century poetry in English. Macmillan, 1999

Meyer, Michael. «The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, T.» (2004).

Wilson, Tom. «Introduction to the Post-Pastoral in Australian Poetry.» Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language 3.1 (2013): 3.

Wright, Judith. The Surfer. 2010. Web