By W. G. Aston
This is often the earliest certain survey of the voluminous jap literature released in English, starting from the Archaic interval (before A.D.700) in the course of the 19th century romanic fictions, to the socalled Tokyo interval finishing in 1898.
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Even where the object, event or person being commemorated is gone, unlike the flame-tree or the pepperina, there is a kind of victory in the survival of the memory, however saturated with sadness that memory might be. Victory and defeat, speech and silence are bound together. This is why silence always threatens to take over, at least in these poems. Our sense of the dialectic of speech and silence in Wright’s poetry grows more acute, I think, if we examine its connections with how nature is represented at various points in her poetic career.
23 Nevertheless, song serves, I think, some of the same functions as it has in Aboriginal culture (although it lacks the integral functions that it has in the networks of Aboriginal spirituality). 25 For Wright song has a strong connection with life. Thus, in ‘Lament for Passenger Pigeons’ (CP, pp. 319–20), the extinction of this once-numerous bird, and the possibility of somehow giving it an alternative but nonphysical life, are both metaphorized in terms of sound and song: We have not heard the bird.
How reinvent that passenger, its million wings and hues, when we have lost the bird, the thing itself, the sheen of life on flashing long migrations? Might human musics hold it, could we hear? The immediate answer to this last question is in the negative: Trapped in the fouling nests of time and space, we turn the music on; but it is man, and it is man who leans a deafening ear. 34 Cultural Translation and Postcolonial Poetry Not only do we not listen, we impose our own voices on what we might hear, as we impose ourselves on the planet and pollute it: The sirens sang us to the ends of sea, and changed to us; their voices were our own, jug jug to dirty ears in dirtied brine.