As we studied John Shaw Neilson’s poem, ‘The Orange Tree’, a lot of the subtle messages expressed in the poem suggested that a child’s mind could sometimes see beauty in certain things, when most adults can’t: “I saw not what her young eyes could see: A light, she said, not of the sky / Lives somewhere in the Orange Tree”. As the questioner can’t see the “light”, I began to notice the contrasting attitudes an adult and a child can have towards the simplest things in life, as an adult can over analyse things. This is evident when the young girl is critcising the questioner: “Listen! For all your hapless talk you fail to see / There is a light, a step, a call / This evening on the Orange Tree”. Here, you can see the word choice of “hapless talk” is symbolic of his over analysing mindset that makes him miss the answer to his questions. It is also apparent that the questioner has developed a very cynical attitude because of the questioner’s experience of hardship: “Imperishably old in pain”.

The poem suggests that the lesser amount of responsibilities and the greater amount of innocence a child has, compared to an adult, allows a child to see what other adults cannot. When you grow older, you can become more vulnerable, depending on what you’re exposed to.

On a different note, I think I understand what this poet is trying to say, but I don’t entirely agree with the message he is trying to convey. Yes, children can sometimes see a solution to a problem that an adult may not. However, the more you grow, providing that you have an inquiring mindset, the more you will learn. As you grow, you’ll be able to understand and appreciate other aspects of life a child may not.


Works Cited

Jose, Nicholas. Macquarie PEN Anthology Of Australian Literature. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2009. Print.