A connection is an avenue of interaction that establishes and develops a relationship between people, places, and culture. Connections as social constructs may be positive or negative, impacted by internal beliefs, values and ideas that underlie the external determinants of environment, attitudes and culture within society. Poet Les Murray and educator Jane Elliott critically explore in their texts the cultural disconnection in the Australian and Canadian communities in response to the interaction of these factors and their effect on the avenues of interaction between people.
Les Murray’s Sydney and the Bush embodies the poet’s personal connection and attachment to the ‘farmer lifestyle’ as he blames the disconnection of urban and rural Australia entirely on the city’s infatuation with materialistic pleasure. This consequently emphasises his value of the nature of rural society. Murray perceives the infatuation as an external attitude of the modernised and corrupted urban society, factored by the city individual’s internal values of luxury, wealth and power being the unmistakable cause of the cultural divide.
He reinforces this notion through the technique of repetition, using the phrase ‘When Sydney’ in order to periodically mark the progression of cultural disconnection and accentuate the attributing internal and external factors. “When Sydney ordered lavish books, and warmed her feet with coal” reiterates the internal necessity for comfort and sophistication as few of limited sources of satisfaction.
Les Murray further develops the concept of disconnection in the poem when “then bushman sank and factories rose, and warders set the tone”, contextualising this to reveal a loss of cultural identity for the rural community through industrialisation. “Then convicts bled and warders bred, the bush went back and back” whereby the poet suggests that nature is the central value of the farmer lifestyle, governing the internal and external factors of their connections, which in this poem is a disconnection to the urban society.
Thus, Murray demonstrates that our connections are negatively impacted by internal and external factors, expressing a critical perspective that reflects his own value of and connection to nature and its simplicity as a source of contentment. creates another social critique of the urban social hierarchy contrast he begins the poem with “When Sydney and the Bush first met, there was no open ground” and ends with a juxtaposing “When Sydney and the Bush meet now, There is no common ground” enabling readers to identify the divided Australia in its urban and rural communities.
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