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“Farmhand” by James K. Baxter Essay

Question: Comment on the way the relationship between individuals and the natural world is presented in Farmhand.

The relationship between individuals and the natural world is presented quite extravagantly in the poem Farmhand composed by James K. Baxter. Using various speech and sound devices Baxter has made the point how a natural environment can be vital to a person and be a relief to solitude and isolation. The natural world creates a place of comfort and security for the farmhand in comparison to his clumsiness and fear to the opposite sex. The farmhand in Baxters poem is very closely related to nature and the hard work on the farm displays the characters masculinity.

The farmhand at first glance seems a self-conscious young man with a placid attitude. He will stand leaning his back against the wall, smoking a cigarette or telling some new joke to a (male) friend. However at closer examination the reader can imagine the complexity of the characters feelings. He has unremitting desire for a girl-friend to run her fingers through his sandy hair but is too afraid to . His envy is depicted as he always will turn his eyes to the dance floor and watch the girls drifting like flowers. The farmhand thinks about them though, as he has awkward hopes and envious dreams that he likes to dwell upon, but he erroneously believes it is very embarrassing and so he keeps it a secret. Throughout the poem images are created using words from his natural environment. This makes a statement about how close the farmhand feels to nature.

The farmhand is described by using metaphors linking to his environment; Crops slow-growing as his mind. He feels most comfortable while working on the farm, effortless and strong. Here he finds peace and relief from the old wound which probably is an event in the past which makes him feel sad. Farming is everything to the farmhand, while listening like a lover to the song clear, without fault, of a new tractor engine, which to most people would be rather loud and disturbing. The secret night represents his hidden feelings buried deep beneath the surface of this cool young man.

Links between nature and the farmhand are eminent throughout the poem. Many aspects of the farmhands life are comparable with features of nature. The natural world is his relief, security, comfort and love.


University of Cambridge IGCSE 2007-2009Anthology of potry in english

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