Margaret Avison, “In a Season of Unemployment”

  1. What contrasts does Avison suggest between nature and the structures placed upon it by the circumstances of life in a city?
  2. The title of the poem suggests that the man on the park bench is unemployed. How has “progress” contributed to his unemployment? Would he have something to do if he lived in a more primitive society?
  3. The astronaut in the newspaper story is separated from the world, disoriented, confined within a man-made structure, bound by his relation with the scientific world. How does this parallel the situation of the unemployed man?
  4. What is suggested by the quotation marks around the final word “smiling”?
  5. What do you think the theme of the poem is? Does it have something to do with what we call “progress,” and its effect on the freedom of the individual and the quality of human life?