Analysis of enter without so much as knocking – 1956 -9
We enter the world rudely, without warning, at awkward inconvenient times, intruding into parent’s lives without consideration and can just as abruptly leave this world.
The pretentious Latin caption is the beginning of a Priest’s incantation prior to an Ash Wednesday mass.
“Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return”
I. SOUND EFFECTS
Contrast of silence to a crescendo of noise modulating and a return to silence.
Onomatopoeic words — Beep, Beep - racy rapid pace. The parenthetical beeps could represent, apart from the obvious car horn, a censorship of swear words. Imagery of the "rat race" - the frustration culminates in a final BEEP.
Noise words: Bobby Dazzler, traffic; (beep beep and BEEP), giant faces snarled and screamed.., accident.
II. SUBJECT MATTER
* “Blink, Blink..” Life is short, and over before you know it.
* Traces the rites of passage from cradle to the grave.
* Social commentary from perspective of various phases of life.
* Varies from gentle sympathetic to subtle satiric as the persona passes from one phase of life to another: objective, sardonic, sarcastic, parodic, cynical disrespectful. flippant, demotive, detached; undercutting pomposity and eroding the falsity and solemnity of any pretence.
* fast racy, hectic pace of childhood congested life in the fast lane.
* imperative tone during adolescence of sign posts “No Breathing!”
* impersonal, depersonalised – no names of family members. The family has no warmth or closeness.
* irony and satire of last stanza.
IV. POETIC TECHNIQUES
* anonymous archetypal male of the lucky country
* Not didactic - rather we are left to draw our own conclusions.
- much of the narrative is acted out; including direct speech - creates realism; verisimilitudeness.
Contrast: Innocence, idealism of youth | realism of experience | wonderment of stars | “godless money—hungry. | sensitivity “soft cry..” | ruthlessness “head kicking” | Natural beauty | man-made “fixing ..“ | 1st class mortician’s job | image in real life | silence of: baby’s sleep! cemetery | Noise of city life |
Much of narrative is left out to be filled in by readers – his death is represented by a - dash.
The trail-off sentences have conveyed three meanings: they show cynicism, are similar to rhetorical questions, and lead into the next stage of his life.
Three of the stanzas in youth and middle age begin with link words: However, Anyway, Now, - They represent the fast pace of the poem and life.
— caricatures - exaggeration, irony. ex:
Motifs — provide unity, cohesion - togetherness.
- Cars (name?)
- Bobby Dazzler
- stars.. Consider the alternative meanings of "stars" - movie stars, aspirations.
Figurative language - ex: “underground metropolis permanent residentials”,
Stressed words at beginning of new line: ex: “ unadulterated fringe of sky”
“ kick whoever’s down”
Dawe is renowned for his exceptional ear for the tones, patterns, rhythms, cadences and resonances of the Australian vernacular idiomatic speech. Like Henry Lawson before him and countless others since (David Williamson), Dawe strives to imitate the tribal voice he hears the ordinary (battlers) Australian speak. His wide variety of occupations, and the unusual range of people he has met enriched his language and he is able to reproduce authentic echoes of the flexible, colourful and diverse Australian colloquialisms and slang which he surreptitiously slips into what at first sight appears solemn poetry:
“even adding a healthy tan he’d never had living, gave him back for keeps the old automatic smile with nothing behind it...”
Slipping In the parenthetical “back for keeps” undercuts any suggestion of seriousness we might have entertained in what might have been potentially a very emotional and tragic premature death. The net effect is that we become alienated or detached from his death and consider it objectively.
You will find many examples of dry Australianisms in Dawe’s poetry
a) Language used as a weapon of satire, sarcasm to deflate, erode, subvert or undercut accepted myths, traditions.
First stanza speaks of a baby waking into life. The sentences are deliberately short and simple. The baby takes in the hospital, sees signs and expectations.
i) lucky - We’re known as the Lucky country yet as we grow older our luck runs out and we have to fend for ourselves. - false heartiness ii “economy sized mum “ - commercial standardised, commercialised iii) “settle in” - casual idiom. Breezy confidant language of T.V. hosts iv) “Fortch” - Slang for fortunate - very familiar
v) Road side signs - commanding - imperatives vi) “No-one had got around to fixing up yet “- our compulsion to improve on nature. vii) harsh turns of phrase - "back-stabbing", "money-hungry" Aggressive language of ambitious business world. viii) Mixture of colloquial and formal language: Colloquial | formal | “economy sized mum | incomprehensible and monstrous love | settle in” | Halitosis – Morticians | Fortch” - Slang | Probity (honesty – sincerity) |
b) ambiguity: (equivocations, double entendres, nuances)
Poetry communicates by what is suggested and each responder gleans meaning through inferences. curves first class job winding the whole show up interested soiled
c) connotations - word associations:
i) “real” - pragmatism?, Machiavellian?, compromise of Ideals? Realpolitik’s? unscrupulous? ruthlessness. ii) “soiled ‘ - compromise? guilt? dirtied - bed sheets with bodily fluids? iii) “hit whenever you see a head and kick whoever’s down” aggressive yuppie mentality - rapacious and predatory nature of the modem business world. iv) “Probity” - integrity, uprightness, genuine, sincerity, (irony)
d) Euphemisms -
Morticians rather than undertakers.
Halitosis for bad breath
e) Oxymoron monstrous love
Themes, issues, concerns
Below are some of the possible themes of the poem. Find evidence for the theme, discuss its relevance. You may find other themes as well.
1) Life is short, nasty and brutish – Hobbes
2) Life is predictable;, humdrum, sterile;, meaningless, pointless.
The speed of the poem reflects the pace of life while the detachment and lack of emotion indicates the lack of meaning, caring or compassion.
3) Modern Man is obsessed with commercialism, materialism.
Well-equipped, smoothly-run, economy-size: these compound words are commonly used in advertising, as if the life is being sold to the child. This is reinforced by the use of a list, and the use of stereotypes, both of which are impersonal.
Economy-sized Mum ... is a sexist description and is a typical stereotype of the 50s.
Anthony Squires - Coolstream - Summerweight Dad Anthony Squires is an Australian brand of suit.
Straight off the Junior Department rack.
These children have no names, gender or description (Except to point out that they are wearing what everyone else their age wears). Everything about the family is described in sexist, standardised, depersonalised tones. The family has not grown - it has been bought and constructed.
Luck 's-A-fortch Tricky-Tune-Quiz
Note the capitals: the emphasis is over-the-top. Evidence of consumerism (and sexism) again - after winning the quiz, Mum chose to celebrate by taking him shopping.
Good-as-new station-wagon - more consumerism. it 's not "second hand", it 's "good as new". The price of 495 pounds would have been very expensive for a car. Also note that a station wagon is room enough to carry the 2.3 children that was the national average.
Consumerism demonstrates the shallowness and hypocrisy of modern ideals and values.
In rich countries, consumption consists of people spending money they don’t have to buy goods they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.
4) Life is predatory; a struggle; us against the world Everyone for themself. realistic like every other godless money-hungry back-stabbing miserable so-and-so, 5) Modern man needs to dominate and mould nature to their tastes
The stars are “littered across the sky” Something “no one had got around to fixing up yet.”
6) We judge everything by appearances
Bobby Dazzler 's false heartiness reflects the false, materialistic nature of the world into which the child has been born. "Hello, hello, hello all you lucky people". This is immediately followed by a cynical comment from the narrator (and he really was lucky because it didn 't mean a thing to him then) - Bobby Dazzler doesn 't have an impact on the child 's life - yet: the child is lucky because he is innocent of the falseness of society. Note the irony of this comment in contrast to the rest of the stanza.
.7) People can become callous about death.
The callousness of everyone around him - a person has just died, and people are paying attention to the make-up on his face. Confirmed by the apathetic and unemotional reaction of observers: (Everyone was very pleased) - he 's dead, but he looks good. the old automatic smile with nothing behind it- shows the extent of the facade he had developed in order to fit in with society, which kills genuine emotional responses and individualism, and encourages conformity. The whole idea of the funeral directors making him look good ties in with the theme of the hypocrisy of society - the ultimate comment on society is that with "that automatic smile with nothing behind it", the man might as well have been dead even before the accident: "He was dead before he was killed". winding the whole show up - this man 's life was like a TV show, which is now finishing, hence the jokey, happy talk show host-style narrative, with undertones of bitterness and irony. This also winds up the poem.
Underground metropolis - ie, the necropolis. Even in death, the man cannot escape the metropolis.
Like a talk show host or an advertisement, the narrative breezes over items, as if to generate interest: permanent residentials, no underground parking, etc. Even death is cheapened and sold.
8) People are too ashamed to have a soft cry in the corner because they have given in to a society which is emotionally bankrupt and centred on the illusion of getting ahead.
Enter Without So Much As Knocking (p 15 of Sometimes Gladness)
"Remember, man, thou art but dust, and unto dust though shalt return." This is a translation of the quotation which begins Dawe 's poem, Enter Without So Much As Knocking. The quote reminds us that life is not forever; and that we are all faced with mortality.
The poem itself is discussing a man 's journey from birth to death and how all around him life is interpreted by material possessions. At the beginning of the first stanza, the sentences have been made very short and simple, as if to demonstrate the thoughts of a new born child. The first voice that the baby hears when he is born is Bobby Dazzler, one of Australia 's first game shows. The very first thing that the baby hears is not the voice of his mother, nor the voice of his father, but the voice of materialism. This first stanza instantly creates the feeling of a home in the 1950s, where television was something new. The ellipsis that connects the first and second stanzas demonstrates a change in time, in this case, a change of a couple of years.
The words used in the second stanza, such as "well-equipped" and "economy-size", are words that were constantly used in commercials at the time, as if life was being sold to the child. This use of a commercial like structure is also evident in the way that the family is depicted, each with its own stereotype: an "Economy Sized Mum", a sexist description typical to the 50s; an "Anthony Squires - Coolstream - Summerweight Dad", Anthony Squires referring to an Australian brand of suit; and "two other kids straight off the Junior Department Rack", referring to the baby 's siblings, each free of gender and age and...
Both poems have a similar theme - the cycle of life, the mass-production and lack of uniqueness. ‘Enter without so much as Knocking’ shows how consumerism has a negative impact on society. The poem depicts the life of a typical man, living in the suburbs. It starts off with the birth of a child. The sentences are intentionally made short and clear. As the baby begins to conceive the world he has been brought into, he sees signs, commands and expectations. Dawe stresses the point that the first thing that the baby heard was a voice of consumerism on television, as opposed to the voices of his family. The baby has been brought into a materialistic world � a world where such an important event has just occurred, a new member of the family has been born, and yet the television is on and Bobby Dazzler is preaching his false cliches to the household.
“Hello, hello, hello all you lucky people”
Help with essay on Bruce Dawe 's poetry - 'Life-cycle ' And 'Enter without so much as knocking '
Followed by a comment highlighting the innocence of the child � Bobby Dazzler’s false heartiness and slogans do not influence the child.
‘and he really was lucky because it didnt mean a thing to him then’
Dawe believes that the child is lucky because he knows nothing of this repetitive deceit of civilisation. The theme really starts to come through here � these people are brainwashed by television so much so that consumerism is a religion for them. He is ferociously denouncing suburban life and the fact that people worship the television set. In the next stanza his family is described. The household is described with terms that we see as marketing slogans �
“Well-equipped, smoothly-run, economy-size”
These terms give the feeling of mass production � just as well-equipped, smoothly-run, economy-size cars, these sorts of households must have been very common. Again the fact that these people lack individuality is being focused on and it is disputed whether this is correct. The rest of the family are presented as stereotypes.
“one economy - sized Mum, one Anthony Squires- Coolstream � Summerweight Dad, along with two other kids, Straight off the Junior Department rack.”
Every aspect of this family is described in a sexist, impersonal, monotonous manner. His siblings aren’t described by their sex or age � they are just summarised as children who wear the same clothes as everyone else. and regulations imposed upon him everywhere he goes.
“WALK. DON’T WALK.TURN LEFT. NO PARKING. WAIT HERE. NO SMOKING. KEEP CLEAR/OUT/OFF THE GRASS”
These are all instructions that he must abide. Bruce Dawe then satirically mocks these signs by implying that everything about a person is controlled in this world, even their breathing.
“NO BREATHING EXCEPT BY ORDER.”
The purpose of this stanza was to show that the car journey described in it is a fairly accurate representation of this boy’s life. The first sign of any emotion in the poem is “He enjoyed”, the child’s opinion, in the fourth stanza. He is challenging this world of people with iced-over emotions. The child is still innocent in this stage of his life � he is enthralled by nature, uninfluenced by material things, and not staring into the screen watching people make “incomprehensible and monstrous love” as all of the adults are. Children are innocent until we pollute their minds with the filth of society is what Dawe is saying. Owen describes the sky as “Littered with stars”, ironically, as the stars are pure and not soiled with the filth of mankind. Thus by saying the sky is littered with stars, he is taking the point of view of society � the fact that they would want to bring order and conformity to everything. These stars are scattered across the sky in an unorderly fashion, and “no one had got around to fixing [them] up yet”. He is highlighting that society takes beautiful, unadulterated natural things and pollutes them with their rules and regulations. Moving from childhood to the middle ages in but a few lines, highlighting that it’s not worth mentioning the rest of his childhood, as it was all had too much of a resemblance to what has already been said. There is a quick and noticeable change of tone as the man is described as a “money-hungry”, “back stabbing” and “miserable”, no longer the image of innocence as he was portrayed in the first 4 stanzas. Not guarded by adolescence any more, he enters the real world and is instantly polluted with the filth of society. He says goodbye to the stars � their natural splendour no longer interests him, he is now a part of the materialistic world. He will no longer show any emotion, and he is now ‘realistic’, in other words, fake. The following dialogue is a symbol of the man’s beliefs, what he has been taught and what he now accepts morally.
“I’m telling you straight, Jim, it’s Number One every time for this chicken, hit wherever you see a head and kick whoever’s down”
The basic message behind this dialog is the fact that you have to get your own way in life � thinking of no-one else but yourself. Use people, backstab, kick them when they’re down � everything is justified as long as you end up on top. Bruce Dawe notices that a large percentage of the population live by these morals, and he is showing through the example of this man how futile such a materialistic life really is. An abrupt change in the dialog and we hear the words of the man thanking a woman, Clare, for a lovely evening. The readers hold their breath, thinking that maybe there still is some humanity left in this man who has just said such harsh words. But in the sixth stanza it is revealed that he was merely being two-faced and fake. He is in the car with his wife. There are no signs of affection, his wife is just like another possession to him.
“I’ve had enough for one night, with that Clare Jessup,”
Here he reveals the truth � a total opposite of what he told Clare herself. Or perhaps this too is not the truth, and he is also lying to his wife in order to gain sympathy. At the end of the paragraph Dawe abruptly stops the man in mid sentence and leaves only a dash, showing how quickly and suddenly one can lose ones life. In the seventh paragraph the true extent of people’s brainwash is underlined. Such a tragic event has just occurred, and the funeral guests pay attention to only the materialist aspects of his death. They notice that he looks very good, tanned, healthy. This could also be a paradox for the fact that what people look like on the outside can be the opposite of what they are � the insincerity in society. The unsympathetic guests are emotionless and fake, just like he was. Dawe then describes the place the man goes after death as an underground metropolis � underground hinting that due to his dishonest nature and lack of morals he went to hell.
“permanent residentials, no parking tickets, no taximeters ticking, no Bobby Dazzlers here, no down payments, nobody grieving over halitosis”
It is a place with none of the materialistic beliefs that litter this world. It is imposed that people in our world grieve over halitosis, or bad breath, but as we saw at the funeral, do not grieve over death. He’s six feet down and nobody’s interested � they’re all too busy going about their own selfish, self-centred lives.
“Blink, Blink. CEMETERY. Silence.”
The last word is not done in block letters, as all of the other signs � because it is not a sign. There is silence in the cemetery already, and there is no-one to hush up there.
“Momento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris…”
A definition of this epigraph is very important to the moral of this poem. “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.” This ties in with the theme of this man’s whole life going past, and having no impact on the world. Having lost his individuality, he fitted in with society only when he gave into mass-conformity and consumerism. The futile cycle of human lives in a materialistic world is portrayed in this poem, underlining all of the shallowness and facades in society. It is clear that Bruce Dawe’s purpose in writing this poem was to challenge this cycle that he observed, and to show people, through only a few moments in a person’s life, the extreme of this problem. Blinded by materialistic things this man sacrificed his morals and ethics, no longer caring for his fellow humans, or for nature. And neither did those around him. Dawe is showing us how lonely and emotionless a person’s life can really be.
The other poem, ‘Life-cycle’, is one of his well-known poems that deals with how Victorians are influenced by football. It ridicules the fact that football for people has become like a religion. Not speaking of a specific event as in ‘Enter without so Much as Knocking’, this poem describes the general cycle of life of a resident of Victoria. From birth people are encouraged to barrack for their teams, and build a life around football. This ‘religion’ is implied on the ‘innocent monsters’ by their parents and surroundings.
“they are wrapped in the club-colours, laid in beribboned cots, having already begun a lifetime’s barracking”
Dawe is showing that this will be the purpose of the child’s life. He will grow up living & breathing football, and worshipping it without giving a second thought to the true purpose of life. Using simple structure and simple language, he is able to best convey his morals to the common people that it affects. Gently mocking people with his vibrant expression of the game, with Christian symbolism he compares it to the bible � highlighting that it is, but shouldn’t be regarded of the same importance as Christianity.
“They will forswear the Demons, cling to the saints and behold their team going up the ladder into Heaven”
Dawe describes the actual important things in life � marriage, proposals, as just a sidetrack to football, done quickly in between games. Football is the focus of these people’s lives � anything else is merely a diversion to football and should be taken care of quickly so that they can get back to the game.
“- the reckless proposal after the one-point win, the wedding and the honeymoon after the grand-final…”
We almost begin to pity these poor people, to whom living their lives has taken second place in importance to football. By using triumphant words such as ‘behold’ ‘passion’ and ‘empyrean’ Dawe is showing great sarcasm, as he did with the Christian symbolism. It is like he is asking the readers why football is now as important to the Victorians as their religion, and highlighting the fact that it is not supposed to be like this.
“having seen in the six-foot recruit from Eaglehawk their hope of salvation”
Bruce Dawe purposefully makes the last word of the poem salvation. This word, generally associated with heaven, and the fact that living a good, Christian life will lead to our salvation and we will go to heaven, not hell. But it is not from God that these people gain their salvation � they see salvation in the recruit, the strong football player who has come to play for their team and could bring the team victory. With that Dawe makes obvious the skewed priorities of these people, and how futile and pointless their existence is. ‘Carn, carn’ they cry, from birth unto death, never knowing anything else, never living.
We can see by Dawe’s techniques and words in both of these poems that his main purpose was to open the public’s eyes to the mishaps of society. He challenges society, pointing out all of the injustices and hardships that ordinary people face every day. He shows us how we can become selfish and materialistic, and how we can become so involved in something that we no longer recognise the beauties of life and nature. He makes these morals accessible to all people through his simple poetry, communicating his ideas and ethics accurately.
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Commentary by Ann Mitchell '...beribboned cots, having already begun a lifetime·sbarracking.·The poem begins as the child is born; developingsimultaneously as the child grows. The poem is written inthe style of a football commentary. The child beingwrapped in the team·s colours as a baby may be wrapped incloth at its christening, is the first tie between religion andfootball.Throughout the poem, footy rituals are as regular as theevents on a religious calendar. The food, the clothes, thededication; the life time devotion to a team are allexpressed in this poem. God·s voice booms from the standas the fans cheer in unison, and each individual·s belief isrecognized and they are accepted as part of the team. Theteam is searching for salvation and pride when their name iselevated to the right hand seat next to the word ¶Premiers·
The analogy is continues with themention of ¶Demons· and ¶Saints· (whocoincidentally are football teams) as wellas the ambition to ¶climb up the ladderinto heaven·As the seasons come and go sometimesthe team wins, sometimes they lose. Thesupporters however are always loyal.They will not grow old in the same wayothers do. Each season brings a freshstart, just as the Maize-God comes withfresh seed, this year may be the one. Tothe supporters their team is always ¶stillin the game·, they may make the comeback to win.As long as there continues to be the freshyoung six-footers from Eaglehawk thesupporters will keep worshipping theirteam and their favourite player as if he isGod.And the cycle continues.
An appreciation of "Life-Cycle" byBruce Dawe
This ten verse poem is a testament to a distinctly Australian invention, Aussie Rulesfootball. Football is portrayed as a religion, is food and drink, is the life-cycle itself.Football nourishes the young and renews the old. Its mythology is life-sustaining. It brings "salvation", the punch-line of the poem.The poet sprinkles the language of football liberally: "barracking...Carn ...streamers...scarfed ...Demons...Saints...ladder...final term...three-quarter-time...boundary fences". The argot of the grandstands is heard in Carn the Hawks.. Carnthe Cats...Carn the Bombers." Dawe likens the initiation of a baby to the game when heis held aloft at his first game as spectator like young wrigglers swimming to the surfacein the flood of light and sound in the roaring heaven ("empyrean"), of the MCG nodoubt. This football has epic and heroic connotations. Dawe 's tone is ever so slightlymocking but gently so. He respects the strength of football 's cultic life and the life-sustaining qualities it offers. He knows it is a life-giving religion offering an initiation, a journey, a wedding, a honeymoon and salvation. He does not deny its worth nor does hefully side with its rituals. He respects the fact that Australian football is a perpetuallyrenewing mythology and although the dancers change, the dance goes on.I enjoyed this poem and rate it a public statement of a fact. The power and passion of Victorian football in its homeland is wonderful to behold. Dawe records it all for posterity.See also Noel Rowe
SPORT replacing fanatical religion is the subject matter of this poem. Nick Hornby, in his multiple award-winning and best-selling book Fever Pitch makes a similar confession to a life obsessed by soccer - "nothing ever matters but football". One of the things Hornby makes clear is how non-consumerist his passion is. The natural state of the fan is "bitter disappointment" ; the typical crowd experience is "going spare with frustration and worry".
Bruce Dawe loves Australian Rules and so gently mocks and satirises its followers whose passion has taken over their lives.
A true perspective is that however significant it may appear, Sport is merely a game, and although it taps similar drives, calls upon similar talents and strengths of character, it does not entangle with the ultimate authority - that of death. It is the high-trapeze artist who does her balancing over a safety net, and whose hands are not stained by blood-guilt.
There is a superficiality to sport. It does not enter the hallowed underworld of the great archetypes of war. The lives of civilians and especially children, the survival of the community, are not under threat. Supporters walk away miserable from a loss by their team, but essentially unscathed.
Tomorrow is another day; next week another game. Moreover, while football is a case in which the surrogate is preferable to the original, the civilised sublimation preferable to plunging too close to the barbarous depths, a game will never produce poems like The Iliad or Agamemnon.1
1 This is an edited extract from Ego & Soul, by John Carroll, professor of sociology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Published by Scribe.
I. SOUND EFFECTS
Tone: rolling solemnity of a hymn of praise.
Celebratory yet light-hearted, almost irreverent, Mock- heroic? A mixture of solemnity with jocular parodies, a hint of affectionate satire.
Sport has replaced Religion and now provides for:
a) continuity — passing on traditions, values, aspirations
- inculcation of legendary heroes, conditioning
b) Imbuing life with purpose, meaning, direction.
c) Revitalisation through cycles of renewal
d) Pivotal axis around which everything revolves.
III. POETIC TECHNIQUES
Contrast of Images:
Mythical Monsters young children
Voice of God roar of crowds
Maize god Chicken smallhorn resurrection Eaglehawk (new recruit)
Dance of life sport
beribboned, scarf of light, rippling like streamers
barracking, “Carn, Carn. ..“ Corruption of Come on.
“pure flood of sound... voice, like the voice of God booms from the stands “oh you bludger”.
“elderly still loyally crying Cam. . (if feebly) until the very end”
Parallels: Religion, pagan and Christian = modern sport
Puns: Wrapped, wrapt,
Tigers, - Richmond
Demons, - Melbourne
Saints, - St. Kilda
Lions - - Collingwood
Parody of: rituals of life; “reckless proposal after the one point win”.
Anzac Ode: Undercut by triviality of rivalry between Victoria and northern states, suggesting an affectionate send-up. Bathos
Much of the language is lofty, poetic, pompous, rhetorical and not suited for such a banal pedestrian topic like football. The juxtaposition of this elevated religious language with the crude Australian vernacular provides some of the humour.
Biblical language and style, The word order is often resonant of the King James Version of the bible yet dealing with mundane things like, “Hot Pies and potato crisps they will eat.”
Shakespeare’s rhetorical: The tides of life....” ending in bathos.
Juxtaposition of four kinds of language: Secular - football | Religious | Formal | Vernacular | Christian | Pagan Myth | Beribboned | barracking | | | tussle | Carn | | | empyrean | the stands | flood | Monsters | shrapnelled | Possession | rapture | break surface | scarfed | Ooohh you, bludger | voice of god | maize-god dancers | forswear | Hot pies and potato-crisps | Covenant passion | race-memory | perpetually | Chicken Smallhorn | Saints/Demons | resurgent lion | replenish | six foot recruit | Ladder to Heaven, hope of salvation | centaur figuredance |
Cliches: Language of football the home team, the wind advantage, the final term, the boundary fence, the stand, the ladder, the grand final.
Double meaning - words functioning on two levels:
Tigers, tussle, Demons, Saints, Lions,
“pies and potato crisps”
When children are born in Victoria they are wrapped in club-colours, laid in beribboned cots, having already begun a lifetime’s barracking.
Carn, they cry, Carn … feebly at first while parents playfully tussle with them for possession of a rusk: Ah, he’s a little Tiger! (And they are …)
Hoisted shoulder-high at their first League game they are like innocent monsters who have been years swimming towards the daylight’s roaring empyrean
Until, now, hearts shrapnelled with rapture, they break surface and are forever lost, their minds rippling out like streamers
In the pure flood of sound, they are scarfed with light, a voice like the voice of God booms from the stands
Ooohh you bludger and the covenant is sealed.
Hot pies and potato-crisps they will eat, they will forswear the Demons, cling to the Saints and behold their team going up the ladder into Heaven,
And the tides of life will be the tides of the home-team’s fortunes
- the reckless proposal after the one-point win, the wedding and honeymoon after the grand final …
They will not grow old as those from the more northern states grow old, for them it will always be three-quarter time with the scores level and the wind advantage in the final term,
That passion persisting, like a race-memory, through the welter of seasons, enabling old-timers by boundary fences to dream of resurgent lions and centaur-figures from the past to replenish continually the present,
So that mythology may be perpetually renewed and Chicken Smallhorn return like the maize-god in a thousand shapes, the dancers changing
But the dance forever the same – the elderly still loyally crying Carn … Carn … (if feebly) unto the very end, having seen in the six-foot recruit from Eaglehawk their hope of salvation
Homecoming by Bruce Dawe illustrates and recounts the tragedies of the Vietnam War in an even-tempered, but negative tone. The poem is based around the literal returning of passed soldiers in the sense that they were not appreciated. Dawe utilises a variety of imagery and literary features to further emphasis the deeper significance while attempting to convey the message that war is unavailing and effectively a waste of human life.
The poem makes use of enjambment throughout, more so in the second half where the majority of the imagery is presented as well as the first mention of a feeling 'sorrowful '. There is no specific structure maintained across the whole of the text, which allows for a more particular writing style unique to the poet. Due to the relatively cynical tone the poem reads at a steady pace averting the possibility of heedlessly skipping through.
The foremost section of the poem introduces the seemingly routine task of transporting dead bodies as if it were trivial. The tone at which it is spoken is relatively tedious and repetitive. Repetition is present to emphasise the dryness of the monotonous activities associated with war and homecoming. By example 'those they can find ' which indicates the insignificance and the fact that it has developed into a routine practice, without a great deal of concern. 'They 're ', made use of at the beginning of five consecutive sentences highlights exactly this. Furthering this sense of repetition is how it shows little regard and at the same time presents the soldiers impersonally - without a reverent identification. The poet describes how the process of bringing them home is constantly in occurrence as soldiers are incessantly perishing - 'All day, day after day '. Additionally the word 'them ' integrated so casually supports the dehumanising tone intended to display detachment of the living from the dead.
Poetic devices are used to highlight the negativity and underlying themes of anti-war and the way by which society regards those brave enough to face battle after they have done their job. The use of personification and alliteration in the last stanza 'telegrams tremble like leaves ' adds a distinct sense of abruptness further supporting the futility and wastefulness brought into existence by war and further assists the reader in envisaging the situation.
The soldiers are seen to receive respect from only their dogs 'raise muzzles in mute salute ' as they are greeted by them silently and respectfully when they should
An Analysis of 'Homecoming 'In twenty-five lines of dramatic and saddening poetry, Bruce Dawes Homecoming describes to the audience the tragedies of war, the return of the young bodies of the soldiers from the Vietnam War and the lack of respect that was given to these soldiers. Bruce Dawe was born 15 February 1930, he is an Australian poet who began writing poetry at the age of 13. He was influenced by writers such as John Milton and Dylan Thomas. Dawe 's poetry revolves around Australian society, politics and culture.
The title Homecoming is used effectively to contrast the traditional universal implications of the word, with the shocking reality of dead soldiers flown home from Vietnam to grieving families. The word homecoming usually implies a celebration or Heroic welcome for a great achievement, with a return to roots and family. However, the title has this return but with a saddening twist, because the homecoming described in the poem is related to death, mourning and loss with the arrival of a nameless body to a home country, this is quite different from the heartfelt joy extended to a loved one at a normal homecoming.
All day, day after day, theyre bringing them home; theyre bringing them in, piled on the hulls of grants, in trucks, in convoys. The image of the amount of bodies being brought home is truly depicted here, these quotes show that the flow of bodies returning home from the was continuous every day hundreds of bodies were being brought home, none greeted with gratitude for the sacrifice they made, only the disappointed knowledge that they fought in a war for no reason.
A methodical production line of bodies is created with the use of -ing throughout the middle lines of the first stanza. Bringing, picking, zipping, tagging, and giving once again provide a horrible contrast between the living and the dead. Furthering this methodical sense is the repetition of theyre, theyre bringing them home, theyre zipping them up, adding to the impersonal relationship between the bodies and their handlers.
The simile "whining like hounds" emphasizes the destructive characteristics of war, also depicting dogs as sympathetic feelers of human emotion. This relates to the image in the last stanza of the bodies only being greeted by mute dogs. For these dead soldiers, there is no big parade and music, only "the howl of their homecoming" from the plane. The world famous twenty-one gun salute is also used as a mocking of the soldiers, by the "mute salute" received from muzzled dogs who should have been yapping and barking. Further to this the soldiers are only greeted by dogs, whos worldwide concept is of being mans best friend, but they are silent and unfortunately cannot voice their grief in words.
Although these men have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their lives, the fact that they get no recognition for this act except from their dogs emphasizes the global concept of war as dehumanising. The final line of the poem creates the idea of an oxymoron, "They 're bringing them home now, too late (because the chance to save their lives has now past), too early" (since all these soldiers are too young, leaving behind an unfulfilled life). Unfortunately these soldiers will also never receive the true recognition they deserve for their efforts that should have been given at the end of the war.
I think that the lack of full stops in this poem shows that the war was continuous and their was no time to stop and relax, I think that Dawe has successfully established and shown his views on war through his description of the events that followed the bodies of the soldiers as they returned home from the war.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:the poem 'Homecoming ' by Bruce Dawe
Bibliography: the poem 'Homecoming ' by Bruce Dawe