In “The Lonely Land,” Arthur James Marshall Smith captures the aggressive character of the country, Canada. He portrays the desolate and austere beauty of the country in which he spent the most impressionable years of his youth, by using few techniques to illustrate imagery.In the first Canto, Smith creates an environment that depicts the nature of this land and shows what an external form of beauty does to it. For example, “Cedar and jagged fir uplift barbs against the gray and cloud-piled sky.” These lines tell the reader that Smith has set the scene where there are firs, fish and a gray cloudy sky that is heavy with rain. The next few lines “and in the bay blown spume and windrift and thin, bitter spray snap at the whirling sky; and the pine trees lean one way.”These lines reveal that it is about to rain and there is froth forming at bay with strong winds blowing sprigs of flowers at bay and causing the pine trees to sway from one side to the other.
Smith uses techniques such as diction, repetition and personification to describe what he has written about and gives us a clear picture of the scene. Repetition is used with the word “and” as it is used five times in this stanza and personification for example, is used in the line “thin, bitter spray.” The words thin and bitter can only describe a human and not an inanimate object such as a flower.
In the second Canto, Smith further describes the surroundings of this Lonely Land and writes of how another beauty of nature disarrays that of another. The first few lines of this verse, “A wild duck calls to her mate,” is a personification. A duck cannot call. Only humans can do this. Smith could have used quacks instead of calls. The next line “and the ragged and passionate tones stagger and fall and recover, and stagger and fall,” is also a personification.
Only humans can stagger and fall, not tones.The last few line “on these stones – are lost in the lapping of water on smooth, flat stones,” has another literary device called a Caesura. This pause is used in the middle to add variety to regular meter and therefore emphasis to certain words. Basically this verse describes that the ducks passionate tones are lost by the sound of the wavelets on stones.
This verse too tells the reader that Smith sees beauty in the tones of the ducks and how it is destroyed by another form of beauty, the sound of the waves.In the third Canto, Smith describes the beauty used in the first and second verse through connotations that is quite hard to understand. Smith writes of what this beauty really is for example, “This is a beauty of dissonance, this resonance.” These lines tell the reader that beauty is incongruous and there is Physics in it that makes it very interesting. The words dissonance and resonance are imitative harmony. Another literary device used in this stanza is personification, for example “wind-battered branch” and “smoky cry.”The last Canto of the poem is a Quatrain.
This is a four-line stanza and it has a repetition in it. For example, “strength” is written twice. The lines “This is the beauty of strength broken by strength and still strong,” has a hidden message in it which is complicated to understand but what it may mean is that, even though there is beauty in strength, and it is broken by strength, it is still strong. Even though Smith does not make this message quite clear, it has been explained to an understandable cause.