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John Foulcher- Harry Wood Summary

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This poem is a poem that describes the life of a retired miner, how he faced the close encounter of death and lived through that experience to have a long fulfilling life. In my opinion this poem is a poem of a young aussie man who was born poor and wanted better for his family in the future, he wanted his grand kids to be wealthy and not fight for survival day by day as he did.

From the beginning up until Stanza 4 the poem is depicting Harrys past life in the mines. The first 4 stanzas to me show a man of great courage, tenacity and a massive ambition to build a better life for himself. In stanza 2 we hear of Harry “firing a man for fooling with the ropes.” This shows that he is a man who isn’t afraid to crush other along the way, this is evident in the next line where he describes the workers giving up. “ and the sank, back to the sleek coal caves.” However in stanza 3 the mines collapse, it says “the mine nearly took him” This is too say that the mine collapsing almost killed him. “He heard them say Woods Gone. As shovels rattled in the earth.” This is now the people he pushed aside digging him out of his grave and rescuing him.

Now we go to stanza 4 where it is now the present time and Harry has bought a farm. Although his wealth has changed, his attitude hasn’t. In stanza 4 he mentions herding the steers in by himself, pricking at them with a charged bar. This shows that 1.) Harry wants to do the work himself instead of hiring others to herd the steers and 2.) His attitude towards pricking and hurting the steers shows that he likes to have dominance. The phrase “tubs of meat” refers to a poem from a poet named Thomas Hardy, Thomas hardy’s poem criticises people like harry, harry does not see them as peaceful animals but simply as a butchered product. The 5th stanza shows Harrys ruthless attitude towards animals. From this stanza we cannot tell if he is simply leaving them dead to show his superiority and ruthlessness, or he could be eating them as he sees life as a day by day fight for survival.

Coming to the ending we see the real Harry behind this ruthless character, we see a man who feels an emptiness, a man who feels a hole in his life. This is why he wants his grandchildren to start life with a good amount of wealth, that way he believes they will have more time to make a live for themselves, and not have to fight for survival day in day out as their grandfather.

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