Legend by Judith Wright

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What features or characteristics of the human condition can you identify in Judith Wright’s Legend? How has the poet used specific language techniques to emphasise these attributes of life.

Judith Wright’s ‘Legend’ responds to various aspects of the human condition present in our society today. The poem is focused primarily on the actions of a Blacksmith’s boy, a vassal for humanity’s growth in response to age and change. In stanza one, Judith Wright utilizes personification “rivers hindered him” and “thorn branches caught at his eyes to make him blind” coupled with metaphor “the sky turned into an unlucky opal” to emphasise nature’s hindrance of the blacksmith boy, if the poem is to be deemed as a metaphorical representation of life’s journey, this can be portrayed as the obstacles that must be overcome through our progress. The repetition of “I can” in the phrase “I can break branches, I can swim rivers, I can stare out any spider I meet” represents, to some degree the headstrong nature of youth. These techniques are replicated in the second stanza, but with a heavier and more serious tone. The metaphorical change in age is subtly depicted through the harsher attitude of nature, shown through more potent visual imagery, “mountains jumped in his way” as well as anthropomorphism in the crow, “You’ll soon be dead”, this contrast between the ‘lesser’ hindrances from the first stanza can refer to the increasing difficulties of the obstacles that we must be overcome, proportionate with age. In the third stanza, there is a sudden shift in the mood of the poem through the visual imagery of the setting sun, an allusion to death. Simile is used in the following lines, “Up came the night ready to swallow him, like the barrel of a gun, like an old black hat, like a black dog hungry to follow him” in the form of the blacksmith boy’s possessions to emphasise solitude, the blacksmith’s boy has lost everything as his time is coming to an end. Personification is used...
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