The 1944 poem “Beach Burial”, was written about Kenneth Slessors experience during World War II in El Alamein, Egypt. Kenneth Slessor was an Australian poet and journalist, who was the correspondent reporting from North Africa. Unlike other poems written about war, “Beach burial” is neither nationalistic nor patriotically written and does not commemorate heroes, as it tells of enemies uniting in death. The poem is a tribute to the masses of soldiers who died in the war. It is set on the Mediterranean shores of El Alamein, as it describes bodies being washed up on the sands. During the poem, Slessor utilizes a passive, melancholy tone. Themes used throughout the poem include death uniting enemies, the compassion of people who find time to bury the dead, and soldiers losing their identity throughout the war. The title of the poem is ironic, as the beach is usually associated with fun and relaxation. Slessor’s use of the beach is the location for death and war.
Kenneth Slessor uses the first verse of the poem to introduce the theme of death uniting enemies. He effectively does this through the first line “soft/ly and/ hum/bly to/ the/ Gulf/ of/ Arabs”. The line uses iambic pentameter, which creates a rhythmical effect and grabs the readers attention. This creates a calming tone through his use of low sounding words, “softly” and “humbly”, which are examples of tactile imagery. It then contrasts with “The convoys of the dead sailors come”. The creates a heavy, tone, which gives the poem a realistic version of events. “Convoys”, which is usually referenced as a ship, is used to depict the mass of dead soldiers, heading towards the shore line. He then depicts the rhythmical motion of the dead, as“They sway and wander in the waters far under, But the morning rolls in the foam”. The alliteration of the “W”, the sustained assonance, and use of half-rhymes such as “wander, water”, create a captivating, lulling, effect. This