"Farmhand" by James K. Baxter

Essay by i0u0y0 June 2008

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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 Baxter’s poem is very closely related to nature and the hard work on the farm displays the character’s 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 character’s 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...