Protest Poetry

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  • Topic: Protest song, Irony, Australian poets
  • Pages : 5 (1580 words )
  • Download(s) : 387
  • Published : January 30, 2008
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Protest poetry and songs have been written all throughout history and even into the present day. Even though there are many differences in the protest poetry including theme, style and language they all seem to retain one feature. They all aim to get a message across and in doing so, engage their audience and inform them about a particular issue. Some protest poetry and songs which have stood out include; Beach Burial written by Kenneth Slessor, Home-coming written by Bruce Dawe, Six young men written by Ted Hughes and I was only nineteen which is a song by Redgum. Each of these poems or songs are written about war and its' tragic effects however each poet or lyricist has engaged its audience in various, yet effective, ways to get their similar messages across.

In the poem Beach Burial by Kenneth Slessor we are described a scene of a beach where thousands of victims of war have floated in. We can tell that Slessor is protesting about the cold meaning and reality of war as we find out that all of the sums of bodies which have arrived in on the beach belong to different sides and how it is now pointless seeing as they have all faced the same fate. Slessor has used dramatic irony, onomatopoeia and a distant view point to make his effect on the audience.

The dramatic irony used in Beach Burial refers to how it is ironic that the soldiers who have fought against each other and could have killed each other are now all floating on the same coastline receiving equal treatment and being buried with their enemy. Slessor has used this effect to emphasise how pointless war really is. He wanted the audience to understand that the point of fighting is lost in death and the fact that each of the floating bodies is responsible for another floating body's death just seems so stupid.

In the first stanza of Beach Burial, Slessor has used onomatopoeia to describe the movements the bodies are making. "At night they sway and wander…" is an example of this. This effect helps the audience to imagine the actions the vast numbers of bodies are taking.

Slessor has also used a distant view point to communicate his message, He uses words like "someone" and "unknown" to portray the meaning of how was forces the soldiers to lose their individuality by giving them just a number. When Slessor uses this distant view point it shows how war seems pointless because the only people who are directly affected by war have no name or character.

Kenneth Slessor, by using dramatic irony, onomatopoeia and a distant view point, has engaged his audience and demonstrated a dramatic viewpoint of war.

Bruce Dawe has engaged his audience in the poem home-coming. This poem has included many techniques like irony, a continuos sentence and a dramatic ending to help engage the audience. This poem explains the process of how dead soldiers are transported home. The poem emphasises the excessive amounts of people which have died during war. Dawe appears to be protesting about the large number and how it needs to be reduced.

The irony in this poem is in the title – home-coming. When we think of the word home-coming we often picture a grand entrance of an abundance of people to a large, excited crowd waving flags, hands and posters. The irony comes when after we read the exciting title we are faced with this morbid poem about excessive amounts of dead soldiers. Dawe has used this to provide the ultimate contrast between what people were expecting to happen and what actually did happen during war.

The poem only has one full stop in it and that is at the very end. The whole poem is just one long sentence. Dawe has purposely done this to make his message appear continuos. The reality of the home-coming described is that it did not just happen once it happened on several occasions. This long sentence helps to portray this.

The last line of the poem states "too late, too early" which are binary opposites. This dramatic ending is used to keep the audience...
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