Journey the North Coast
A journey embarked upon is often intertwined with numerous issues of self discovery such as the personal, inner and mental journeys of the mind. The notion of learning or being taught along the way is neither new nor alien to anyone who has experienced mainstream stories of a hero undergoing trials and hardships to come out the better for it in the end. The archetypal hero undergoes many ordeals and faces many obstacles before realising their destiny, defeating their enemy or, simply, becoming a better person. These exaggerated stories are magnified versions of the day to day choices we face as individuals in our lives and the considerations required in fulfilling our desires for our life quest/journey.
Journeys are a Quest for knowledge; to discover who we are. Karl Jung, a student of Freud, examined the archetypal journey of the hero who proves his valour on a long journey performing impossible tasks, battling monsters, solving unanswerable riddles and overcoming insurmountable obstacles to save the kingdom and perhaps marry the princess. The hero, in passing from innocence (ignorance) to adulthood (maturity) goes through three stages, separation, transformation and return. Journeys can enlighten us.
The term journey originates from middle English, the distance travelled in one day. Synonyms include, trip, voyage, excursion, expedition, tour, peregrination, ramble, pilgrimage, trek, march, walk, promenade, drive, travel, walkabout odyssey…
The journey described in this poem is a return to home after a year away in the city. There is a distinct air of anticipation of meeting loved ones again.
We start in media res with the poet waking up in a swaying bunk – the first metaphor comparing the train to a small ship on the sea. The noise of “booms and cracks” is a mechanical locomotive tearing nature apart.
The poet describes the interior of the “Red rattler” in deprecating terms, such as “rattle up the sash”, “drab carpet”, “water sways solidly”. Outside it is a bright crockery day” of his childhood, the train passes scenes of blue and silver paddocks, fences split from stone (hard wood?), a red clay bank (Wauchope?), through slopes of trees (Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase) until the train finally bursts out on the sea (Coffs Harbour?) and he is finally home.
The wide range of colour of the silver basin, bright crockery, shadow, blue and silver paddocks, red clay, blackened tree trunks, white gum trees, and finally a calico beach all help us visualise the scenes.
The aural senses are noisy with booms and cracks, rattle, bursts, unfurling, whirl, shuttered, helping to create a realistic atmosphere.
The ending of the poem suggests the poet has spent 12 months away nostalgically longing for this day.
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