Martinson’s view on the nature and the place of humans in it as expressed in his work ‘Views from a Tuft of Grass’ are very interesting and worth a thoughtful analysis. Harry Martinson has always been a keen observer of natural processes with a peculiar inclination to contemplate about these processes and unique ability to render his thoughts and feelings on paper in a rather engaging way. Martinson is firmly convinced that every element of life is a mystery in itself.
Without rambling on for pages about metaphysics, he explains clearly and poetically how the larger world, the cosmos, and the inner world of every person, the microcosm, are connected. He deems that reflecting upon natural processes can lead to deeper understanding of your own emotions and soul movements. In line with the development of modernism, Martinson embraces greater realism in depicting natural scenes and rendered daily life as it is.
Living a simple and humble life himself, he believes that people shouldn’t trade their freedom and connection to nature in return for some illusionary benefits. However, he has never opposed the development of technology in a vocal manner; in fact, he takes an active interest in science. Yet at the Martinson’s time the human race embarked on the dangerous adventure of altering the environment.
Thus, the author continuously warns the humanity not to destroy the environment — first of all, in order to preserve it for the future generations, and secondly, not to endanger subtle harmony and balance between the cosmos and microcosm. He believes that humans shouldn’t try to take over the nature or show their supremacy over other living beings. This won’t lead to spiritual satisfaction or better conditions of life for all. Instead, it will bring disappointment and anxiety, and a pervasive feeling of guilt and loss of the purity of nature as well as harmony within.
Martinson calls upon the reader to be more attentive to little details that all come together to form the beauty of the surrounding world. Too often, the mysteries of nature are left unnoticed or blatantly ignored. Readers should work on developing their sensitivity in order to gain a deeper understanding of the essence of nature and inherent connection between human being and the planet we live on. The development of such sensitivity comes through the refusal to rely on common terms and concepts to denote the mysteries of nature.
Since human connect to the world through language, using the same language signs to refer to a variety of natural phenomena diminishes the value of nature’s originality and changeability. If we look at the phrase that opens the collection of essays, we’ll see that the imagery and language used in it are creative and fresh: ‘In a sky reflected downward on a lake, the clouds whirl around like summer spirits, and as you row across this sky of water your oar dips quietly towards evening like a dark wooden spoon into the cloud-milk’.
Generally, love for nature is well-entrenched in Swedish national character. Yet Martinson goes far beyond this love typical for his countrymen. He believes that the greatest scientific and spiritual discoveries lie in the realm of nature. He also is strongly convinced that the inspiration to live, to work and to create is derived from the mysteries of nature around us.
Martinson, Harry. Views from a Tuft of Grass. Kobenhavn: Green Integer, 2004.