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Analysis of Rosemary Dobson' poem "Wonder" in relation to the AOS discovery.

Jennifer Purssell

on 8 April 2017

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Transcript of "Wonder"

Ideas about Discovery
"The Arnolfini Portrait"
Painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434.
The artist included himself in the painting.
The persona, viewing this painting over 500 years later, is in awe of van Eyck's understanding of himself, that he could include himself in painting.
A poem written in response to an artwork is ekphrastic. "Wonder", "Traveller's Tale" and "Painter of Antwerp" are all ekphrastic.
The reference to Lazarus is a biblical allusion. He is featured twice in the Bible.
In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man discovers what was important in life, how one should treat others and the consequences of making the wrong decisions. He cannot, however, share this information with his brothers, who are making similar mistakes.
Some discoveries, therefore, we need to an interdependent. We learn by living, by making mistakes and by taking responsibility for the consequences of those mistakes.


Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead after four days after the man's sister declares her faith in Jesus. Lazarus is, understandably, awestruck by his experience and doesn't have the words to articulate it. Some discoveries leave us overwhelmed and awestruck. We cannot explain them, but are simply amazed.
Hernando Cortes was a Spanish soldier and explorer in the early 16th century. He traveled to parts of America (now Mexico and Cuba), discovered the Aztec civilisation and, having heard that it was extremely wealthy, tried to conquer its leadership. Although he successfully took control, he was a cruel to the indigenous population, who were persecuted and suffered the introduction of smallpox. The governor in Spain felt that Cortes was becoming too powerful and limited his role. Cortes returned to Spain and lived out his life in solitutde. His discovery of California went unacknowledged and he learned that greed does not bring accolade.
What is discovered?
We time to contemplate quietly, and reflect, in order to appreciate what we have learned. .
The value of a discovery can change over time, and between people.
Discovery brings responsibility.
Discovery is a constant process.
How and why are discoveries made?
Immersing ourselves in the discoveries of others.
By living our lives with an open mind.
Due to curiousity.
Experiencing life ourselves.
As a result of a clear goal.
What are the consequences of discovery?
Feeling of being overwhelmed or awestruck.
Changed perception of self.
Changed values.
Changed understanding of the world.
The Poem
The persona is awestruck by the discoveries that others have made, and how these life-changing lessons have been expressed in painting, giving expression to ideas that we often struggle to articulate. These discoverers take time to reflect, and grapple with how to articulate what they have learned. The persona ultimately realises, however, that discoveries are fluid, changing in value over time, place and different perspectives.
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