Norbert H. Platz
March 15, 2014
This essay considers how the aesthetic appreciation of nature can enhance environmental bonding and caring, and contribute to engendering a reconciliation of humans with their natural environment. After a brief examination of Judith Wright’s view of Australia’s ecological predicament, some core constituents of the aesthetic experience of nature will be outlined to serve as a philosophical underpinning of Wright’s aesthetico-ethical concept of reconciliation. Major arguments taken from her essays are meant to throw some new light not only on Wright’s own poetry but on the reconciliatory character of Australian nature poetry in general. Short analyses of individual poems by John Shaw Neilson, Douglas Stewart, John Blight, Judith Wright and Ruby A. Penna focus on specific themes such as “aesthetic wealth and well-being,” “translating nature into a work of art,” “science-based aesthetic perception,” “the symbolic reversal of human ascendancy,” and “exposing ecological damage.” In my conclusion, I claim that poets could take a high profile on reconciling humans with nature. Their insights need to be put on the agenda of interventionist action. My specific concern, here, is to consider how an aesthetic appreciation of nature might enhance our practice of bonding with, and caring for, the environment.