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Discuss how Gray uses the environment to portray ideas about nature and humanity in Coast Road

Discuss how Gray uses the environment to portray ideas about
nature and humanity in Coast Road. In your response, make
detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.
Poetry has the ability to explore humanity in distinctive ways to
elicit emotional responses. It provokes affective and cognitive
responses through metaphorical experiences. The imagist poet
Robert Gray provokes these responses through the exploration of
nature in luminous detail using Asian inspiration in form and
eastern philosophical approaches in content. He explores ideas of
humanity through intimate insights about self and landscape,
dealing with moods and ideas of the human condition and our
connection to nature. These ideas are portrayed with a reverence
for sensory perception throughout all poems in his anthology
Coast Road. Harbour Dusk and Description of a walk ask us to
consider how awareness allows us to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ beyond the
moment and use this to restore and rest our minds and emotion
and see nature and the world in ways we have previously not
considered. Gray seamlessly connects humanity and nature
through unique combinations of similes, metaphors,
personifications and imagery.
Reflecting on an experience is a significant trope in literature; it
allows us to consider the metaphors of the environment and
nature and how they reflect notions of human experiences.
Harbour Dusk depicts the sunset on the harbour as a metaphor
for the failure of relationships and how this human occurrence
can be captured in nature. The ‘fading life’, of the harbour’s stone
wall tells us that the relationship between ‘She and I’ is failing.
Gray employs sensory description which engages sight and
touch, ‘oily, aubergine dark’. Here ‘oily’ connotes something
unsavoury to touch, not a pleasant image even though it is a
beautiful scene. This depicts the failing relationship between the
persona, and how beauty isn’t enough to save them over time.
Gray uses imagery to alter the mood experienced throughout the
poem. ‘Wandering’, ‘Overcast sky’ and ‘Evening confessional’, all
offer a loss of light and colour which conveys a reflective sad
mood change of the persona. This mood is reinforced throughout
the poem via the rhyme scheme of a pararhyme. The poem, in its
lapsing rhythm, has a melancholy sense of loss, of our plans
being failed, inevitably; at the same time, it expresses the alluring
relaxation that hides in pessimism. Through comparing
landscapes to other notions of human experience, Gray presents
the potential to explore how and why we create, and what it is
that allows us to become aware of the connectedness of all
Metaphysical connections are available when we begin to realise
our capacity to share, through poetry, the emotional and spiritual
nature of humanity’s flaws and vagaries which can be reflected
through surrounding landscapes. Description of a Walk
illustrates nature’s restorative capacity and how it can reflect
human emotions and experiences. Gray uses imagery in the form
of a metaphor comparing nature and the man-made world to
immerse the reader in his adventure through nature. He
compares the sounds of cicadas to ‘the warming of an engine’,
helping the reader imagine the overwhelming noise created by the
vocal insects. He emphasises this mechanical metaphor in the
description of the collective noise ‘their hum’s power, an
electricity substation’, the image he creates accentuates the
immense power of the natural world to that of the man-made
world and mimics the heightened, angry emotion of the persona
at this point in the narrative. Gray sees the fecundity of the
landscape as an archetypal metaphor for growth, peace of mind
and renewal. His descriptive imagery compares the landscape to
an exalted piece of art, ‘leaf-splatterings’ and ‘plinths and
mantels’, these both portray that the landscape appears painted,
due to its immense perfection. The connection between landscape
and art is expanded through Gray’s intertextual reference to the
‘Pre-Raphaelite shine’. The Pre-Raphaelite’s were a rebellious
group of artists Gray’s use of this reference comes with a double
meaning. The trees look as though they were painted by the PreRaphaelite artists and the poet himself is righting in a ‘painterly’
manner as an imagist, which is an act of rebellion because most
poets write in detailed and obscure metaphors. Gray goes out of
his way to describe entities connected to notions and objects in
the everyday world, allowing the reader a more thorough
connection with his writing.
Through encapsulating human ideologies in nature via efferent
yet aesthetic language, Gray provides a connection both visceral
and sentient, for the reader, allowing for strong correlations to be
made regarding the connectiveness of humanity and nature.