"Sports Field" by Judith Wright: "Explore the distinctive qualities of the poem, explain how the poem reflects Wright's concerns and explain her literary styles and values implied"

Essay by crunchieHigh School, 11th grade February 2006

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Judith Wright once said in an interview, "I write poetry because it's one way to understand life". Being able to understand life and how it works seems to be Wright's intention in the poem Sports Field, a poem that she was inspired to write after going to a school sports day. The entire poem is a metaphor for a deeper understanding of children, in the ball games and races they participate in, representing their individual life-courses. In "Sports Field", Wright emphasizes the values of innocence and experience.

Wright has cleverly used this poem as an allegory. On the surface, one would say that the poem is about anxious children all wanting to win their races, with some children losing and others winning. However, the poem goes much further than that. What Wright wants the reader to understand is that the sports day is actually a training ground for the world, where the children learn to grow from their parents and take on the hard ways of the world.

The races and ball games in which the children participate represent their individual life-courses. To explain this, there is a rich development of symbolism all throughout the poem. The poem begins with the field, which symbolizes the start of life, when a baby is born. "Naked all night the field/ breathed its dew until/ the great gold ball of day/ sprang up from the dark hill." The great gold ball of day, the sun, is like a ball itself, which flows with the theme of athletic competition. In the second stanza, "... the children come/ the field and they are met/ their day is measured and marked..." describes how these 'babies' meet with life. This metaphor of their day being measured and marked shows how at this stage, life is set...