English Literature – American Writing and the WildernessIntroduction: The close interactions, connections, and interdependencies between the wild and human worlds have often been explored and highlighted by wilderness poets. With the aim of this essay being to test the claim of Max Oelschlaeger—“the wilderness poet calls forth ancient connections of the wild and human worlds”—, this essay analyses the two poems of Gary Snyder from his book The Back Country (1967), and establishes the highly significant connection, which is indeed ancient, between the two worlds of the wild and human.
It tries to highlight the importance of wilderness which is deeply ingrained in the minds of wilderness American poets and which is often reflected in their writings. A brief analysis of other American poets’ ideas of wilderness have also been analysed after interpreting their writing. Establishing the significance and importance of wilderness in American writing and culture, the essay concludes by affirming to Max Oelschlaeger’s claim of the role of wilderness poet in bringing out the ancient connections between the two worlds. Notion of wilderness: Wilderness has been an object of observation, study, and detailed analysis by many scholars, ecologists, geologists, and others from ancient times.
Study reveals that throughout history, there has been a great deal of intermingling and interaction between wilderness and human world. According to the USA's Wilderness Act of 1964, wilderness refers to “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammelled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” 1.At the present day, preservation of wilderness remains the central concern of authorities as well as individuals. Max Oelschlaeger describes the present-day notion of wilderness as: “it is a melange of competing philosophies, ranging from resource conservation to so-called deep ecology” 2.David Henry Thoreau, regarded as the “philosopher of wilderness” by Max Oelschlaeger, has said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world”.
Such ideas are also held by Max Oelschlaeger. In his highly acclaimed book The Idea of Wilderness, Max Oelschlaeger brings into light the ancient connections between the wild and human worlds. He believes that the idea of wilderness represented in the very beginning as “a heightened awareness by an agrarian or Neolithic mind as farming and herding supplanted hunting and gathering, of distinctions between humankind and nature” 2.According to him, wilderness is essential for the growth and development of our humanity, leading to “richer human beingness” 2.
Wilderness has indeed played an important role in shaping our culture, and leading our country to prosperity. Throughout history, there are accounts of humans plundering and dominating wilderness and reducing it by viewing it as a natural resource. He states that at the present day, there appears to be a huge gap between wilderness and our culture.
Thousand of years of “cultural history” have separated us from wilderness which had at sometime in our history shaped ourselves and created other life-forms on Earth 2.However, even today there are wilderness poets who are greatly influenced by wilderness poets who explain the magical influence of wilderness on our psyche. He states that “encounters” with the wild have acted as “balms” for them 2. Max Oelschlaeger believes that such poets reflect in their writing their love for wilderness and the ancient connection between the two worlds.
Such poets bring out the true relationship between wilderness and humans and the significance it has for us, believing strongly in the belief that wilderness is our true home.