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Human condition – “An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow” by Les Murray

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The human condition encompasses all aspects of life, including emotions, relationships, and how the external environment can impinge upon thoughts, values and beliefs. Though these aspects represent the experience of being human in all people, they are unique to and vary with each individual. Different people will inevitably undergo both positive and negative experiences in their lives- how these affect those individuals are explored in Scott Hicks’ ‘Shine’, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, Edvard Munch’s ‘the scream’, and Les Murray’s ‘an absolutely ordinary rainbow’ and Jude Wright’s’The remittance man’. These composers have used a variety of visual and literary techniques to demonstrate contrasting experiences that humans undergo.

The comments made by Murray in ‘An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow’ reflect a distorted society where feelings and emotions are kept secret, and dark fears and worries remain imbedded deep within individuals.

The isolation of society is shown when the crying man is situated in a busy street with ‘crowds’, yet he is so alone that ‘no one approaches’.

Weeping is a bitter-sweet emotion, but the rewards of inner peace through the release of grief and sorrow outweigh the pains of weeping. while the man cries out with “grief” and “sorrow” it is a “gift” to weep because it brings peace.

People are shown as being so obsessed with fitting in the unfeeling social mainstream that they have become afraid of change. The poem points out that people have become less dignified because they no longer openly express their feelings and attitudes, but the man appears as a savior, having the courage to openly weep at all the ills and worries of modern day life. Les Murray has used him to symbolize redemption, and the man is portrayed as a messiah through the description- “Only the smallest children and such as look out of Paradise come near him and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons”, presenting him as being innocent, pure and genuine. The pitching of the lone man weeping in amongst the crowds of busy, materialistic commuters clearly shows the contrasting events that occur in life. The passers by eventually yield to their inner desire of releasing pent-up emotions, and are also able to sincerely weep. This change triggered by the weeping man completely changes those around him, showing the ease with which negative circumstances can change.

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