Unconscious nobility: the animal poetry of Harold Farmer

Wylie, D. (2007) Unconscious nobility: the animal poetry of Harold Farmer. English in Africa, 34 (2). pp. 79-92. ISSN 0376-8902




I want to suggest that Harold Farmer's poetry works repeatedly in this area of ambiguity, a zone of tension triangulated, as it were, between three impulses. First : a notion (or even the fact) that a sense of community depends on 'knowing' what the 'other' is thinking or feeling, and on being able to articulate that knowledge. Second : suspecting, or even knowing, that certain reaches of the mind of the 'other' are fundamentally, and fascinatingly, unknowable - of the realm of the unconscious. And third : knowing (or just fearing or hoping) that any secure distinction between ourselves-as-humans and ourselves-as-sharing-animal-traits is artificial, or at least permeable. Hence, while Farmer's wild animals are perpetually on the brink of disappearing from sight and understanding, it is precisely that mysteriousness which attracts us, can sometimes envelop us, and even speak to us. In having spoken and been spoken to, we are somehow ennobled.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Dan Wylie is an Associate Professor in the English Department, Rhodes University
Uncontrolled Keywords:Harold Farmer; poetry; poems; animals; animals in literature; humans; nobility; unconscious; community; Rhodesia; Africa; knowledge
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English
ID Code:1062
Deposited On:25 Aug 2008
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:19
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