The Poetry of Bruce Dawe
The poem "Weapons training" composed by Bruce Dawe, explores the realities of war. The poem is situated in the period of the Viet-Nam war to prepare recruits for war. Dawe, uses a wide variety of techniques to further convey the harsh realities of war. The poem is a forceful text that is design to shock the audience and to bring out an emotional response.
Bruce Dawe, writes poems on his own experiences in his life, living during many periods of conflicts. In each of his poems he writes about issues that concern him. Dawe had serves as a pilot for the RAAF for several years and he understands what the young soldiers would feel. For that reason he has composes several pieces of poems about war. One in particular is "Weapons training". He believes that innocent young boys should not be conscripted to war, being used as waste-able fighter, nor kill other young boys. For unjust reason on greed, religion or differences.
Throughout this poem, Dawe extensively uses imperative commands. There are many reasons as to why he does this. We know that the poem is linked to the Vietnam War and that the speaker is addressing the young recruits. This context is one of the army and we know that there it is governed by rules and regulations. Choice is something that is removed from the recruits and the drill sergeant makes them understand this. “And when I say eyes right I want to hear those eyeballs click…”At no time does he actually expect a response from them he simply wants them to obey and understand that they have entered into a new world that is very different from the one they have known. The imperatives are also used to degrade the recruits and provide a very clear warning of the dangers of war. An example of this is, "What are you laughing at you in the back with the unsightly fat between your elephant ears". Again the intention here is to intimate him, making him feeling really small and powerless. Also Bruce Dawe uses another imperative command, when the sergeant intimidate the soldiers ," Why are you looking at me, are you queer?" This is used to take away individual thinking, where they are forced to think as a group that obediently follows orders. The sergeants job in the army is to change the men into killing machines that have no emotions of killing another human being, because war is a life and death situation and it kill or be killed.
In weapon training, Dawe also uses the technique of sexual innuendo. He does this to appeal the recruits masculinity and virility. The examples used in the poem are, "Crown jewels" and "Key in the ignition". hence, Dawe is attempting to excite and worry the recruits by drawing their attention to their potential loss of their sexual organs and thus their manliness. Males general society are their to reproduce the population, and with out their male organs they cannot, representing them as not a man. By sexually making the recruits worry and scared, they will take war more seriously.
Through out the poem, Dawe also uses colloquial language
and idiomatic Australian expressions. He does this so we can identify our audience and get a greater understanding of the message he is sending. To truly understand many of the terms we need to have a solid understanding of the language as many of the terms are no longer used on a regular basis. They are typically Australian expression that do not have a significant relevance today. The tone of the poem is spoking in a colloquial manner that at times turns to insults. The terms such as, "tripes", "you've copped the bloody lot..." and "women's tit" are all examples of colloquial language that are designed to set a certain atmosphere. The speaker is addressing Australian recruits and is preparing them to fight against Asian enemy. The idioms also further cement the idea that this is an Australian contingent of recruits.
He uses a variety of insulting language towards the new recruits. The purpose of...
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