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Farmhand by James Baxter. The poem is about a farmhand who is portrayed to be a very ambivalent character. He is unhappy and rather diffident in certain situations and extremely confident and gloriously happy in others.

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FARMHAND HOW THE POET HAS MADE HIM A MOVING FIGURE This poem was written by James Baxter who was born and lived in New Zealand. He was brought up in a farm in a quiet and bleak south east corner of New Zealand. The poem is about a farmhand who is portrayed to be a very ambivalent character. He is unhappy and rather diffident in certain situations and extremely confident and gloriously happy in others. Some "old wounds" a past experience or probably "the secret night" which has witnessed some deep dark personal experiences relate to his emotions and melancholy. However all his sadness is vanquished once on the farm where he feels like a king. In the first two stanzas the poet describes the Farmhand as he stands outside the dancing floor. The first stanza tries to give the impression from his gestures that he is a careless person not interested in what is going around him the way he is smoking and joking with his friends. ...read more.


Painful memories may be still fresh and surface upon watching the girls dance on the floors or listening to the music or even gazing at the dark night, which shares his secret and sorrow. The reader feels very sympathetic towards the farmhand in the second stanza when the poet writes, "His red sunburnt face and hairy hands were not made for dancing or love -making". The description of his bodily features convey he is unappealing to the girls of upper social class and not fit to indulge in "dancing and socializing or love making" which is privilege of the elite and handsome. The farmhand is engaged in an occupation, which benefits and is a necessity to all mankind. Yet his sacrifice and selfless attitude to his work is not appreciated and he feels inhibited and diffident to mix with girls because of his external appearance and social standing. ...read more.


In the last stanza the poet tells us that the Farmhand is in his domain The Farm and once in his natural element he is confident and comfortable. His looks don't affect him and his low self-esteem is vanquished. The sound of the tractor engine is music to his ears one which energizes him, not which makes him nostalgic and sad. His hairy hands, which seemed clumsy around delicate girls on the dance floor, are perfect for his job he carries out effortlessly. The poet uses the exclamation"Ah" as an exclamation of admiration towards the farmer and how perfectly he fits his role and job! It is touching to note that the persona has not been given a name and is referred throughout as "Farmhand" gives the impression that he has no personal identity and is known and recognized by his job around which his life revolves. He lives for his job. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

There is much useful observation and analysis here, though it occasionally drifts into unsupported generalities. Quotations are well chosen and skilfully woven into the argument. The essay disappointingly peters out, however, without effectively summarising the main findings of the analysis.

Some of the shorter paragraphs that deal with the same theme or stanza of the poem would be better combined. The writer demonstrates that s/he is capable of very good sentence control but this tends to become a little sloppy as the essay progresses, indicating that the completion of this work was rushed and not read though critically before submission. There is the makings of a very good essay here, but it falls short of its potential.

3 stars

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 10/10/2013

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