Citation: Barúa, G. (2019). Swaying Nature – Native and Poetic Conceptions of the Forest among the Wichí and in Robert Frost’s Poems. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.4.2.02
Usually, analogies about nature exist in the native and poetic conceptions that stem from a type of reasoning where sensitive perceptions and intuitions, linked with certain natural elements, give rise to world views which foster human empathy. This article will focus on the concept of “nature”, from the perspective of the Wichí bazaneros of Northwestern Argentina. They are traditional foragers, like their neighbours, the Qom, Chorote, Mocoví or Nivaclé of the Gran Chaco lowlands that live on the northern border of Argentina and the southern borders of Bolivia and Paraguay. Their thoughts will be put into correlation with poems by Robert Frost, concentrating mainly on the swaying tree metaphor. Trees, among the Wichí, are associated with longevity, vitality and fertility. Human and arboreal families are connected through trees and, as in Frost’s poem Birches, this allows them to swing between the forest and the stars through reveries. However, in both nature is conceived as two-faced: her lovely face tends to change into a cruel one, which disappoints the poet as well as the Wichí people who cherish it so much. For this reason, in both the cases, its swaying character may suddenly lead to a change from a friendly nature to an ominous and suffocating presence predicating human decline and death. Fortunately, reverie and imagination sustain them during these temporary spaces of negativity and afford them periods of joy.
Wichí, Robert Frost, swaying, faces of nature