Login

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

February 27, 2024, 12:33:01 pm

Author Topic: Lit feedback? Prosperity by Michael Dransfield  (Read 1796 times)  Share 

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Synthesis62

  • Adventurer
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Respect: 0
Lit feedback? Prosperity by Michael Dransfield
« on: April 15, 2022, 10:23:46 pm »
0
This is the poem:

monday to friday at the plant
concrete yards are busy with
vehicles and movement although most of what
moves is machinery
now and then a human figure crosses the open
space looking small & helpless
in the sky above the plant not much is blue
behind the buildings in a grey channel something
oozes past seeming to have been a river

on friday night when the machines are silent
& and the watchman finished his rounds
walking away with gun and torch like some
mistaken supplicant then only the dark
finds its way through wire fences
and sometimes due to atmospheric conditions (for which
the management is not responsible) the wind will rise
or in the wasteland hours of industrial sunday
rain might start falling inadvertently as if
still thinking of a plant as some kind of
flower



This is my close reading

A poet in many ways ahead of his time, infamous for his drug use and early death, Michael Dransfield is prominently known for his involvement in the generation of ’68 that sought to use art as a means of social protest, with a number of his works outlining the relationship between man and nature. In ‘Prosperity’ (1970), by Michael Dransfield, it highlights how the landscape is a construct of the poet’s imagination, one which nature has been ravaged by humanity, hence allowing for an eco-critical reading. However, with the ubiquitous presence of industrialisation throughout the poem, an anti-capitalist lens can be applied, depicting a society that is “helpless” in the face of rampant capitalism. Devices such as symbolism, imagery and personification have been used to aid in these interpretations.

As the century progresses, the health of our ecosystems are regressing, with many aspects removed by human activities resulting in larger scale destruction. In ‘Prosperity’, Dransfield highlights how the natural landscape is now a “wasteland”, brought on by humanity’s ‘opposition to nature’ (Wright). In the poem, the visual imagery of the sky “where not much is blue” and “something ooz[ing] past seeming to have been a river” is unsettling to the reader, reinforcing the extent of the destruction incited by humanity. The wind that sometimes “will rise” and the rain that “might start falling inadvertently” for which “management is not responsible”, is ironical as it implies that these elements of nature are unwanted – sublime, uncontrollable forces as they are, outside the grip of the humans in their intent to ‘subdue, tame, control’ (Otto). In this sense, the poem becomes a macrocosm for the damage we have done as a species to the Earth. Reading from an eco-critical perspective, Dransfield’s poem emerges as a depiction of the rampant destruction caused by humanity, this supported through sensory imagery.

In the text, the connotations of “machinery/plant/industrial” perfectly encapsulate the capitalist nature of Dransfield’s poem. The concrete yards “busy with vehicles and movement” with “most of what moves [being] machinery”, reinforces the extent of the industrialised presence upon the landscape as it has largely replaced nature. The persona in the poem who works “monday to friday” implies he is just another worker in a blue-collar profession that leaves him exploited in the ‘booming’ economy. This is reinforced in the line “now and then a human figure crosses the open space looking small and helpless”, depicting the misery of the humans in a once sublime landscape, now tamed and replaced by the larger construct of an embodiment of capitalism, the personification of the rain in a reminiscence “thinking of [the] plant as some kind of flower”, aiding in this interpretation. Through an anti-capitalist lens, the poem can be read as depicting industrialisation that has left humans in want, this supported by personification and connotations.

In ‘Prosperity’, the discourse of control by mankind is ever-present, with the frequent motif of nature been tamed by capitalism in that “most of what moves is machinery”, the sky is no longer “blue” and rivers have been reduced to “oozing grey channel”. The landscape can only reclaim some aspects of its sublime nature when “the machines are silent”. This is reinforced in the intriguing description of the “watchman” as “some…supplicant”. A “supplicant” has religious connotations, perhaps suggestive of some request for divine intervention through prayer. This is symbolic of nature requiring a cleansing of humanity’s industrial influence in order to truly reclaim a presence in the “wasteland”. The religious meaning can taken further when the “rain…start inadvertently falling” on “industrial Sunday”, where work has ceased in a ‘Sabbath’-like manner, and this perhaps symbolising a temporary reprieve from humanity’s continued destruction through industrialisation. This anti-capitalist reading of Dransfield’s poem has been constructed through symbolism and motif.

In ‘Prosperity’ by Michael Dransfield, humans have been revealed to be in ‘opposition to nature, first and foremost, in a physical battle for survival” (Wright). Through an eco-critical lens supported by sensory imagery, the poem can be read as a macrocosm of the continued damage inflicted by humans upon the Earth. With an anti-capitalist reading applied, the poem emerges as a critique of industrialisation that has largely replaced nature and left us “helpless” and in ‘want’.





Any feedback at all would be appreciated :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2022, 10:26:21 pm by Synthesis62 »

Synthesis62

  • Adventurer
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Respect: 0
Re: Lit feedback? Prosperity by Michael Dransfield
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2022, 10:27:20 pm »
0
idk why the bottom bit is crossed out

literally lauren

  • Administrator
  • Part of the furniture
  • *****
  • Posts: 1699
  • Resident English/Lit Nerd
  • Respect: +1423
Re: Lit feedback? Prosperity by Michael Dransfield
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2022, 09:10:36 am »
+2
Hi Synthesis!

Great analysis overall! I've left some comments below (the crossing out happens when you write '[s ]' on ATAR Notes as it interprets that as 'strikethrough text', not your fault, haha!)


A poet in many ways ahead of his time, infamous for his drug use and early death, Michael Dransfield is prominently known for his involvement in the generation of ’68 that sought to use art as a means of social protest, with a number of his works outlining the relationship between man and nature. In ‘Prosperity’ (1970), by Michael Dransfield, it highlights (careful of sentence structure here; it's easy to make little errors if you have complex sentences, but if you simplify it you can usually see the issue: 'in this poem, it highlights...') how the landscape is a construct of the poet’s imagination, one in which nature has been ravaged by humanity, hence allowing for an eco-critical reading. However, with the ubiquitous presence of industrialisation throughout the poem, an anti-capitalist lens can be applied, depicting a society that is “helpless” in the face of rampant capitalism. Devices such as symbolism, imagery and personification have been used to aid in these interpretations. If your teacher wants you to include this, you can leave it in, but personally I never bother with these kind of sentences. Don't list techniques in the intro; save them for your body paragraphs where you can analyse them and earn marks. Also,  you don't want to be too vague, as saying 'the author uses symbols and metaphors to convey his ideas' is kind of like saying 'the author uses words made up of letters from the alphabet'  ::) - no need to tell us that; just give us an overview of the views and values before you jump into analysing!

As the century progresses, the health of our ecosystems are regressing, (Minor thing, but you're writing this in present tense so it sounds like you're talking about the current day, whereas this poem was written over 50 years ago. Eco-criticism is fairly new, but I think it makes more sense to start with the poem's context rather than our contemporary one, e.g. 'Dansfield's 20th century zeitgeist was characterised by great bounds in industrialisation and technology, often at the expense of the health of ecosystems and people...') with many aspects removed by human activities resulting in larger scale destruction. In ‘Prosperity’, Dransfield highlights how the natural landscape is now a “wasteland”, brought on by humanity’s ‘opposition to nature’ (Wright). In the poem, the visual imagery of the sky “where not much is blue” and “something ooz[ing] past seeming to have been a river” is unsettling (can you be more specific about what's unnerving here? What is it about these visual descriptions that makes us uneasy?)*** to the reader, reinforcing the extent of the destruction incited by humanity. The wind that sometimes “will rise” and the rain that “might start falling inadvertently” for which “management is not responsible”, is ironical as it implies that these elements of nature are unwanted – sublime, uncontrollable forces as they are, outside the grip of the humans in their intent to ‘subdue, tame, control’ (Otto). <-- great analysis and use of a critical quote!! :) In this sense, the poem becomes a macrocosm for the damage we have done as a species to the Earth. Reading from an eco-critical perspective, the sensory imagery in Dransfield’s poem emerges as a depiction of the rampant destruction caused by humanity, this supported through sensory imagery. <-- minor point, but you want your paragraphs to feel like they're 'zooming out' (i.e. starting from the text/language and then building up to an interpretation statement. So, it flows nicer if you say 'therefore, the sensory imagery emphasises the idea of ecological destruction' rather than saying 'therefore this emphasises ecological destruction which is supported through the use of sensory imagery.' That last part almost feels like you're diving back into analysing again, so a quick re-ordering makes this a stronger paragraph conclusion.

In the text, the connotations of “machinery/plant/industrial” perfectly encapsulate the capitalist nature of Dransfield’s poem. The concrete yards “busy with vehicles and movement” with “most of what moves [being] machinery”, (good use of quote modification; you've got a great grasp on how to use language from within the poem!) reinforces the extent of the industrialised presence upon the landscape as it has largely replaced nature. GREAT! You're being more specific here, so you can earn more marks for this analysis! It might feel obvious to spell things out, but this is often where most students skip steps and lose marks!! The persona in the poem who works “monday to friday” implies he is just another worker in a blue-collar profession that leaves him exploited in the ‘booming’ economy. This is reinforced in the line “now and then a human figure crosses the open space looking small and helpless”, depicting the misery of the humans in a once sublime landscape, now tamed and replaced by the larger construct of an embodiment of capitalism, the personification of the rain in a reminiscence “thinking of [the] plant as some kind of flower”, aiding in this interpretation. <-- I think this last quote deserves its own sentence or two unpacking it - don't try to cram too many examples into the one sentence! For instance, here you can delve into the wordplay of 'plant' meaning both a natural, living thing, and a massive non-living industrial facility. Why would the author want us to draw this comparison? What is the significance of nature being confused by this? (i.e. the rain is treating the plant like a flower, thinking it will grow or be symbiotic with the natural world, when in fact this 'plant' is a cold, heartless wasteland of machinery.) Through an anti-capitalist lens, the poem can be read as depicting industrialisation that has left humans in want, this supported by personification and connotations.

In ‘Prosperity’, the discourse of control by mankind is ever-present, with the frequent motif of nature been tamed by capitalism in that “most of what moves is machinery”, the sky is no longer “blue” and rivers have been reduced to “oozing grey channel[s]”. The landscape can only reclaim some aspects of its sublime nature when “the machines are silent”. This is reinforced in the intriguing description of the “watchman” as “some…supplicant”. A “supplicant” has religious connotations, perhaps suggestive of some request for divine intervention through prayer. This is symbolic of nature requiring a cleansing of humanity’s industrial influence in order to truly reclaim a presence in the “wasteland”. The religious meaning can taken further when the “rain…start[s] inadvertently falling” on “industrial Sunday”, where work has ceased in a ‘Sabbath’-like manner, and this perhaps symbolising a temporary reprieve from humanity’s continued destruction through industrialisation. This anti-capitalist reading of Dransfield’s poem has been constructed through symbolism and motif. This paragraph is excellent, but I think the final sentence is letting you down a bit. Can you be more descriptive about what the poem is accomplishing in this regard? What is Dransfield saying about this conflict between mankind and nature? Is this ultimately an optimistic or pessimistic depiction of the state of humanity?
Try using the following template sentence for paragraph conclusions:
'Hence, through this use of symbolism and motif, Dansfield suggests/highlights/explicates/elucidates/condones...'

^then just change the techniques and authorial intent statement accordingly :)

In ‘Prosperity’ by Michael Dransfield, humans have been revealed to be in ‘opposition to nature, first and foremost, in a physical battle for survival” (Wright). Through an eco-critical lens supported by sensory imagery, the poem can be read as a macrocosm of the continued damage inflicted by humans upon the Earth. With an anti-capitalist reading applied, the poem emerges as a critique of industrialisation that has largely replaced nature and left us “helpless” and in ‘want’. Good summation :)

Your interpretation and grasp of the key ideas is excellent, and there are some moments of great analysis! The two main things I'd suggest working on are: 1) paragraph endings - try to tighten up the sentence structure and conclude by tying things back to your interpretation and/or the authorial intent, rather than summarising the literary techniques you've analysed, and 2) be specific in your analysis! When you do this well, it's fantastic! But there were a few missed opportunities, e.g.

*** In the poem, the visual imagery of the sky “where not much is blue” and “something ooz[ing] past seeming to have been a river” is unsettling to the reader, reinforcing the extent of the destruction incited by humanity. ***

You've chosen the perfect evidence for this, and your interpretation that the effect is unsettling is spot on, but you've skipped the part where you explain how this language creates this meaning. There's no one right way to do this, but below would be an example:

In the poem, the visual imagery of the sky "where not much is blue" defines the landscape by what it lacks, evoking a sense of loss but also uncertainty about what remains. This is coupled with the description of "something ooz[ing] past seeming to have been a river" which likewise implies that the landscape only "seem[s]" natural, instead replaced by a vague "something" that "oozes," connoting sluggishness and disgust. Through this, Dansfield creates an impression of unease and anxiety in readers, reinforcing the extent of the destruction incited by humanity.

Obviously it takes longer to explain your analysis like this, and you don't have to do that with every single quote, but you should definitely aim to do this as much as possible (it's easier to cut down later anyway!) as this is what the assessors want to see!

Other than that, you've showcased a bunch of strengths here, and your ability to wring meaning out of the poem whilst also applying critical lenses is really impressive! Hope this helps - let me know if you have questions about any of this :)