Kenneth Slessor

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Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971) is famous for his poetry, and in such, has become one of Australia’s leading poets. He is known notably for the engagement with modernist influences into Australian poetry and his dismissive attitude towards bush balladists, including the likes of Banjo Patterson. His use of a modernist influence is an attempt to relate life as it is ‘really’ experienced and to describe the environment as the mind perceives it to be, as opposed to the preexisting ideas of bushland Australia. It is instead aimed to move Australian writing away from the bush and towards the city. Slessor’s poetry presents a sense of weariness directed towards the world, with his repeated use of themes, comprising: loneliness, death, time and reflections …show more content…
Slessor, having been a participating member in World War II, uses his poems, for instance ‘Beach Burial’, to explicitly distinguish the bodies of the dead floating through the water, and the commonality of death. ‘Beach Burial’ concludes by stating “whether as enemies they fought, or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together.” This is the persona’s recognition that there are dead soldiers on both sides, yet their humanity is bonded by their common fate of death. Effectively, the unity between soldiers of all nations, is through death. This is all very ironic, when the attitude of war is considered and the purpose of what soldiers are fighting for. However, the race, country and objectives of each person is no longer important upon the passing from one life to another. The war has ended up being what sentences them to death and essentially joins them as one. Regardless of the fact that ‘Beach Burial’ was written from an Australian author’s perspective, it has not pledged allegiance to a single country or alliance, nor does it celebrate a victory. It is instead, a tribute to all who were defeated. Death is an unexpected force that has the ability to change perspective. Kenneth Slessor is best known for his elegiac poems, ‘Beach Burial’ and ‘Five Bells’ and in turn, his ability to construct “a poem of serious reflection, typically involving the lament for the dead.” In these, it is the position of the elegist which Slessor inhabits through a persona, but he is truly, exclusively referencing to himself as the poet. ‘Beach Burial’ is an elegy about the multitude of lost lives through war. ‘Five bells’ along with ‘Beach Burial’ is written to lament the loss of life. His poems have a tendency to illustrate the confrontation of death and the misfortunate experience of those who are grieving the remembrance of a dead soul,

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