Don’t Make This Our New Landscape

“Save the trees, man!”  Quotes like this, teamed with psychedelic clothes and long hair were iconic of the 1960s and 70s; now, similar themes are invading the media and our lives.  This environmental discourse is reflected by movies of the 90s and early 21st century such as An Inconvenient Truth, The Day After Tomorrow, and Whale Rider, plus the classic TV show Captain Planet.  These texts all explore the ideology that our future may be dire if we ignore our environment’s needs.  A poem with a similar ideology is In the New Landscape by Bruce Dawe:

 

In the new landscape there will be only cars

and drivers of cars and signs saying

FREE SWAP CARDS HERE

and exhaust-fumes drifting over the countryside

and sounds of acceleration instead of birdsong

 

In the new landscape there will be no more streets

begging for hopscotch squares, only roads

the full width between buildings and a packed mob

of hoods surging between stop-lights

– so  dense a sheep-dog with asbestos pads

could safely trot across

(Streets will be underground and pedestrians pale.

Motorists on the other hand will be tanned.)

 

In the new landscape there will be no trees

unless as exotica for parking-lots

– and  weeds,

weeds, too, will be no more

 

And we will construct in keeping with these times

a concrete god with streamlined attributes

not likely to go soft at the sight or sound of

little children under the front wheels

or lovers who have wilfully forgotten

to keep their eyes on the road,

while by a ceremonial honking of motor-horns

we’ll raise a daily anthem of praise

to him in whose stone lap are laid

the morning sacrifices, freshly-garlanded, death’s rictus carved

on each face with the sharp obsidian blade

of fortuitousness (steam-hoses will be used

to cleanse the alter…)

 

And in the new landscape after a century or so

of costly research it will be found

that even the irreplaceable parts

will be replaceable, after which

there will be only cars

 

The most beautiful things on this earth are natural – humans, the ocean, the countryside, flora, and fauna.  However, this poem promotes the ideology that the future of the environment may be dismal; instead of trees and birdsong, there will be cars and the sound of acceleration, as it says in stanza one, lines one and five.  It also refers to the future roads being “the full width between buildings and a packed mob” (stanza two, line three), which alludes to the idea that man-made things may leave no room for nature.  Additionally, Dawe makes reference to God, who is usually a loving and soft being, but in the future, Dawe believes that our god will be concrete and ‘streamlined’.  This means that He will have no heart, so neither will humankind, as we are supposed to be made in God’s image.  I agree with the ideology in this poem, which is: if we don’t do something about the environment now, our future will be as cold and hard as the ‘god’ that Dawe describes in his poem. 

 

Some environmental issues that are important in today’s society are global warming, air pollution, pollution of water-ways, and so many more.  As Al Gore pointed out in An Inconvenient Truth, environmental scientists had guessed a while ago that these problems were going to affect us, but only now is the government taking major action in saving the future of the earth.  Movies like An Inconvenient Truth have made the public aware of how much impact humans are having on the environment, and have encouraged people to take action in reversing the damage that has been done.  Some of these things include: turning off lights when they’re not in use, driving ‘green’ cars, and buying food with environmentally friendly packaging, just to name a few.  This shows how large of an impact media texts can have on the general public. 

 

Unfortunately, I don’t think this poem would have a great impact on society, as poems are not as widely viewed as movies and television shows are.  However, I hope that anyone who has read this blog has been touched by the environmental message of Bruce Dawe’s poem, and has been inspired to help save our environment before it is too late.   

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    denisexoxo said,

    I, like you, agree that we definitely need to do something positive for our environment, and also that poems are a great way to express your feelings on issues like this. I have actually found a poem that has a similar ideology to In the New Landscape:

    Time Is Running Out
    By Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal

    The miner rapes
    The heart of earth
    With his violent spade.
    Stealing, bottling her black blood
    For the sake of greedy trade.
    On his metal throne of destruction,
    He labours away with a will,
    Piling the mountainous minerals high
    With giant tool and iron drill.

    In his greedy lust for power,
    He destroys old nature’s will.
    For the sake of the filthy dollar,
    He dirties the nest he builds.
    Well he knows that violence
    Of his destructive kind
    Will be violently written
    Upon the sands of time.

    But time is running out
    And time is close at hand,
    For the Dreamtime folk are massing
    To defend their timeless land.
    Come gentle black man
    Show your strength;
    Time to take a stand.
    Make the violent miner feel
    Your violent
    Love of land.

    This poem represents environmental issues from the viewpoint of an Aboriginal person, whereas In the New Landscape is from the perspective of a non-Aboriginal Australian. Even though the authors of these two poems are from contrasting cultures, the ideology illustrated in both poems is very similar. This shows that our impact on the environment is an issue that is important to people of all different walks of life. The central ideology to this poem, that we will destroy the land for money, is evident in many lines, including: “Stealing, bottling her black blood for the sake of greedy trade” (stanza one, lines four and five), and “He destroys old nature’s will for the sake of the filthy dollar” (stanza two, lines two and three).

    I find that both In the New Landscape and Time is Running Out are quite similar, as they both reflect the environmental issues that have emerged recently – they are both a reflection of this era. Also, both poems highlight the fact that we need to do something now, which is clearly stated by this poem’s title: “Time is Running Out”.

    Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal relates rape to how the miner in this poem is digging up the earth, by giving the earth a heart in stanza one, line two, and a gender in stanza one. This is meant to make people feel like they are abusing a helpless being if they dig up the land or do anything equivalent to the land.

    I wish that poetry was read by a wider group of people, as I believe that this poem in particular would have a great impact. It highlights the fact that we need to act now to save the environment, and stanza three gives hope to the reader that our efforts to save the environment really can be achieved by fighting passionately for our cause.

  2. 2

    bekyxoxo said,

    Thank you so much for your positive feedback on my blog, and also for the poem you included, which was very heartfelt. The language in the poem that you displayed is so emotive, as is the language in many poems. I believe that this emotive language is the reason why so many people enjoy poetry, and why it has such a strong impact on those who read it.

    Your comments have kindled even more inspiration in me to do everything in my power to save the earth, and to do it now, rather than later, as “time is running out”.


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