Theme of Identity in "Summer Farm" and "The Bay"

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The theme of identity is featured in the poems “Summer Farm” by Norman MacCaig and “The Bay” by James K. Baxter. Both poems are set in a natural foreground and address the issues associated with the theme of identity. Through the use of various literary techniques such as parallelism, metaphor and imagery, the theme of identity is presented in both poems.

In the opening of “Summer Farm” by Norman MacCaig, the persona is in a state of thoughtlessness and presents the reader with images of life on the farm. “Straws like tame lightnings hang lie about the grass. Green as glass the water in the horse trough shines.” The minute details and descriptions of the farm are reflective of how the poet is able to perceive his external surroundings in such detail when he is in a meditative state of thoughtless observation. The clarity of the poet’s state of mind draws parallels to the shining “water in the horse trough” described in a simile to be “green as glass”. The noun “glass” has connotations of clarity and relates back to the poet’s meditation that would eventually lead to the discovery of his own identity.

Similarly, nature serves as a means for the poet James K. Baxter to acknowledge his identity in “The Bay”. Contrary to “Summer Farm”, the poem takes on a melancholy tone in the opening, addressing that “many roads we take lead to Nowhere. The alley overgrown, no meaning now but loss.” Baxter places emphasis on the present ‘now’ and “Nowhere’ rather than the “veritable garden where everything comes easy” of his childhood, forming a juxtaposition between the imagined idyllic Bay and the reality of it’s true form, linking to the reality of his own identity. The poet is meditative on various aspects of life such as “meaning “ and “loss” ultimately traveling back to “The Bay” of his childhood to metaphorically acknowledge his personal identity. The use of enjambment and the change of tense from “we bathed at times” to “now it is to say” create an image of the...
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