Annelyse Gelman, in her poem the climate, critics the reaction of people towards the prevailing trend of public opinion or aspects of public life. The poem begins by comparing the wave to something else. She describes the wave as something that people take time to comprehend and react to, and finally, it causes changes that cannot be redone. The poem discusses climate crisis-related context, but Annelyse refers to human people’s actions and reactions in the real sense.
Public opinion can be defined as collecting personal views or attitudes towards specific topics in society. Public opinion may be positive or negative, meaning that people react differently. Gelman likens public opinion to the approaching wave from the horizon, which people are slow to notice or comprehend its direction. The wave is symbolically used to present the views or the aspects of public life that arise, and people take time to understand. Annelyse mentions, “It was like watching a wave approach from a great distance, so great that at first, it is not a wave at all, but a mere horizon, static and singular” (Annelyse1-4). This signifies the inability of people to understand what it is, ‘not a wave at all, but a mere horizon’ (Annelyse 3-4).
The image of the people at the beach turning their backs on the wave signifies the danger ahead of people who ignore prevailing trends. She notes how unbothered some are that they distract themselves with the sand forgetting that the wave is approaching. “So that one, it being possible, presumably, to avail oneself of the diversions of the beach, might turn one’s back on the ocean altogether, might turn instead to the sand, heaped and tunneled, the sun screened hand that fumbles” (Gelman 5-10). The notion that a prevailing trend of public opinion develops can affect people adversely or positively depending on what one believes. However, Annelyse cries out for those who choose to look for distractions to turn them away from the wave and mentions that they are the most endangered ones. Public opinion can represent the truth that people turn their backs on, and they end up regretting.
The child who drowns by the wave’s undertow is used as imagery to represent the real danger if people don’t care and act on the approaching problem. The child is saved, and CPR is done, and Annelyse wishes that people should view that as a warning. Regarding public opinion, the message carried by that trend should be analyzed so that people can know how to respond. If there’s some danger, they should take the necessary prevention or caution measures to avoid being adversely affected. For example, currently, people live to be seen of a specific class by their peers. When the trend started, many people were not aware of the extent to which the problem could go, and therefore, they embraced the notion instead of analyzing it first. And now people are doing inhuman actions to get specific endorsements.
Annelyse metaphorically uses the arrival of the wave to the shores ad its impact to show how the fully adapted public opinion changes how people think and do. Just like the climatic change caused by the waves cannot be reversed, public opinion brings irreversible changes. For example, people will never go back to living culturally because public opinion has it that western life is ideal.
The impact of the changes in public opinion can be likened to how climatical crises occur. The two ideas are gradual. When weather conditions change in a particular area for a long time, the climate begins to change, and if nothing is done, the change becomes permanent. In the same way, a trend of public opinion gradually develops, and if nothing is done, then the opinion is adopted, and the impacts begin to be felt.
In conclusion, in the poem, the climate can help people beware of developing issues and notions in society and acting on them accordingly. If ignored, some can bring irreversible changes; hence people will live in regrets. Just like Annelyse explains the effects of the approaching wave on the shores, so should people beware of public opinion trends.
Gelman Annelyse, “The Climate” 2019