Line 1: the line starts with a direct echo of Wordsworth’s
“Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee . . .'
The poet traces a direct line from himself to Wordsworth to Milton. The themes of
Wordsworth’s poem in which he regrets the passing of certain values are similar to
Cheng’s. Wordsworth’s ‘We are selfish men’ is reflected in ‘insatiate man moves in
for the kill’.
Line 2: There are many echoes of ‘The world is too much with us . . .’ These notes
do not intend to be exhaustive in exploring the references. Here Boey alters the
context of Wordsworth’s phrase, ‘we lay waste our powers’ to ‘She [Nature] has been
laid waste . . .'’
Lines 5 to 10: The references to the sea-gods are explicable with reference to
Wordsworth’s sestet in the poem mentioned above:
‘It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn:
Have sight of Proteus coming from the sea;
Or hear old Triton, blow his wreathed horn.’
However, Boey moves us out of mythology to contemporary reality with his image of
the beached whale and man moving in for the kill.
Lines 7 to 8: Triton was the son of Poseidon. He stilled the waves by blowing
trumpets in the shape of conch shells. As with the image of the whale above, Boey
brings a twentieth-century reality to the mythology as he shows the effects of
Line 11: Wordsworth ends his poem about a rainbow, 'My heart leaps up . . .', with
the words 'And I could wish my days to be
Bound to each by natural piety.'
Line 12: again the poet pays homage to Wordsworth’s poem ‘On Westminster
Bridge’ while taking his last line out of context.
Lines 13 to 14: It may be well not to close the poem down too much here as there
are rich allusions to be explored. However, there is clearly a reference to the ozone
layer in the wound widening in the sky which combines with the biblical echoes of...