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An Analysis Of The Poem “A Country Without A Mythology”

1222 words - 5 pages

“In the darkness the fields / defend themselves with fences / in vain: / everything / is getting in” (Atwood, 28-33). The man in Margaret Atwood’s poem “Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer” is in a situation similar to the stranger in Douglas LePan’s poem “A Country Without a Mythology.” The man in Atwood’s poem as well as the stranger in LePan’s poem are both unsure of where they are. In “Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer” the man tries to separate himself from his environment; however, in “A Country Without a Mythology” the stranger tries to adapt himself to his environment. By analyzing the content, structure, and meaning of “A Country Without a Mythology” the reader will understand that if the stranger openly accepts his surroundings he will then be able to answer the question that grieves him: “where is he?”
The stranger in the poem “A Country Without a Mythology” is on a journey in the Canadian wilderness to which he is not accustomed to. He is lost with “no monuments or landmarks” to guide him (line 1) and is confused about who is around him, calling the Natives “savage people” who speak “alien jargon” (2-3) which forces the stranger to face the question “where is he?”. Rather than letting nature envelop himself the stranger tries to adapt to his new lifestyle by eating berries and pickerel like an Indian would, “forgetting every grace and ceremony,” and adapting to the Indian lifestyle (7-8). Although he tries to adapt to his surroundings he does not adapt completely. When LePan writes “for all of his haste, time is worth nothing” it shows that the stranger has not yet adapted to the Native lifestyle because he is rushing around trying to find out where he is but is getting nowhere. Once the stranger starts to adapt to his surroundings the time speeds up going from November to August in one stanza. In each season the stranger endures harsh weather such as the “flagrant sun,” the freezing winter, and the August lightning (14-17). When the stranger describes the weather the descriptions makes him seem more like an outsider because the Natives do not know the difference between Canadian and European weather making it illogical for the Natives to describe the weather in the way the stranger describes the weather. During the summer months the stranger’s word choices change from harsh words such as “violent” to relaxing words such as “passion” and “lovely” (16-19). The change in word choice indicates that the stranger is feeling more comfortable and accepting of his surroundings. Not only does the stranger’s feelings towards his environment change but LePan’s feelings towards the stranger changes as well. There is no evident emotion in the poem from LePan towards the stranger until LePan refers to the stranger as a “passionate man” who must travel across the fire-ridden land (20). At this point in the poem the stranger is desperate to find a spiritual connection believing he will find “sanctities of childhood” (23) and “a golden-haired...

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