The relationship between people and landscapes is reflected in the poems ‘Train journey’ and ‘Flame-tree in a Quarry’ by Judith Wright and ‘The National Picture’ 1985 by Geoff Parr. Wright’s poetry demonstrates a deep love for the Australian landscape, integrating them with a passionate unconscious and conscious connection with the land whilst also revealing the harsh truth of destruction towards land as shown in the manipulation of textual form and features by Wright and Parr.
The ‘train journey’ is a catalyst for the metaphorical journey of the persona, providing insight to the landscape as both external and internal forces of nature at work. Wright uses her vulnerable circumstance in ‘the train’ to express her belief that the physical journey can initiate the imaginative journey. The use of first person “I” emphasizes the emotive experience that correlates with the personal journey and strengthens the connection between the persona and the landscape “Break with your violent root the virgin rock”. This sexual connotation emphasizes destruction of landscape by people’s ‘violent’ approach and highlights nature’s ‘virgin’ potential to grow as the persona’s train journey ascends. Wright’s ability to distort her poem to encapsulate haunting images of the landscape becomes a Gothic trope for revaluation of self, destruction of land and fragility of the landscape “till the unliving come to life in you” suggesting people’s deep connection with the internal forces of nature at work.
Wright portrays the enlightening effects of the relationship between people and landscape. The glassed carriage of the train “Glassed with cold sleep” depicts the persona’s state of entrapment. Through this motif, Wright communicates her idea that the landscape can be a barrier to development both physically and mentally. The poem’s tone of divorcement “Glassed… out of the confused” is an invocation on the poet’s part to paradoxically bring nature to life from the dead, portraying Australian landscape as hard and unyielding “small trees on their uncoloured slope… articulate and sharp” and “delicate dry breasts”. Wright further utilizes description of the landscape “the moon’s cold sheet” as a bewitching symbol to trigger transformation, foreshadowed by kinesthetic auditory and visual imagery “confused hammering dark of the train” creating a semi-synesthetic state of the slow awakening of the persona. Furthermore, Wright reveals the enlightening effects of the relationship with landscape through the persona by contrasting between “I looked and saw” at the beginning and “I woke and saw” at the end of the poem.