If relevant, how does the poetic voice characterize her relationship to the natural or more-than-human world? How does the poetic voice perceive the natural world around her? Does her depiction of the more-than-human world relate to David Abram’s ideas and experiences? Is the natural world merely a backdrop (like in theatre) or does it play an active or prominent role? Does the poem conjure up emotion for you? If so, why do you think that is? How does it make you feel? Does this poem relate to other readings we’ve discussed in class?
My poem, “Patagonian Landscapes”, is very clearly intended to reference the human world, with themes such as immigration of peoples and ideas, destruction of culture, the imperialism of Europeans, and the conquest of the White Man. but Mistral does, through these topics, discuss the more-than-human world; the world of the past, and of memories, that connects all people with their ancestors. Mistral uses natural terms to discuss these complex matters, using metaphors such as wind at a window, or a fog of forgetfulness. Rather than describe the loss of culture and loved ones literally, Mistral compares her loss to a sunset. Rather than describe the way that colonizers know nothing of her culture, Mistral states that these outsiders know nothing of her rivers or gardens, using ecological ideas to demonstrate the gravity of her words.
I don’t think that Mistral’s depiction relates to Abram’s experiences. While both describe an intimacy with nature and use organic metaphors, Mistral more overtly describes the human world by depicting the non-human world. I think that, despite achieving some of the same effects, Abram’s purpose is not quite the same. For Mistral, nature is more of a setting than a character. While concepts that directly impact Mistral’s speaker are compared to the natural world, nature is not taking an active role in her narrative. The White colonizers and the ideas they carry are compared to white fruits, from a faraway garden. The ideas propagated and enforced by the intellectual colonizers are represented by the accumulation of snow. While the natural world heavily influences the poem and the reader’s understanding of it, nature is nevertheless just a relatable experience to be compared to.
For me, this poem conjures back the feeling of the first time I learned what the early White colonizers had done to the Native Americans. Growing up in an environment where Thanksgiving was celebrated and the idea that Europeans existed in harmony with the Natives, I was shocked to learn the truth about what they did. It’s a weird feeling when I know a terrible tragedy has occurred, but it’s not my fault, and there’s nothing I can do to help solve the problem. Not even sympathetic thoughts can benefit the Native American way of life now. Mistral’s “Patagonian Landscapes” Seems to have a similar tone of powerlessness, but resigned sadness. It’s as if Mistral is recognizing the futility of her situation in real time, rather than feeling pity for those in the non-existant past.