Distracted by Elephants Journal 3, jan 31 - Feb 2

"Elephants" by Patrick Lane was a brilliantly written poem that helped to emphasize the heartbreak surrounding how the Aboriginal people have been treated. Originally, the reader is consumed by the story of the elephants when the simple question "What is an elephant?" is asked. The speaker describes elephant graveyards, making the reader sympathize with the killing and death of these animals. However, the boy unexpectedly compares this to his father's graveyard which is "buried under the grade of the new / highway." The reader suddenly recognizes the seriousness of the injustice that has been done to the Aboriginal people compared to the story of the elephants.

This poem reminded me of "The Elephants of Vietnam" by Charles Bukowski. Bukowski's poetry, though quite crass and vulgar, often brings to light important issues and gut-wrenching realities. In "The Elephants of Vietnam", the speaker is retelling a tale told to him, about elephants being blown up for game during the war. The soldier pleaded with his friends to stop, while they laughed and enjoyed their warped form of amusement. The final lines of the poem state, "he later told me, I / felt about about the / elephants." Similar to the effect that Lane had on his readers, by studying the poem by Bukowski, one realizes how they were so caught up in pitying the elephants that they forgot that the same thing was being done to civilians in a war zone. The effect both poems had was tremendous once the reader recognized how the elephants alluded to a larger issue.

Credits:

Created with images by Sponchia - "elephant ivory animals" • Mirrorlessview - "2013 09 10_PDH_0018_BW" • expertinfantry - "Vietnam War"

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