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Bruce Dawe's Poetry

Dawe’s colloquial style of writing is his trademark, but it should not lead the reader to underestimate the seriousness of what he is saying.

Bruce Dawe is a very well known Australian poet who includes different aspects of Australian life into his poems from dogs taking their first pee in the morning in ?Dogs in the morning light?, to a hangman?s story in ?A Victorian hangman tells his love?, to memories of a soldier going to the Vietnam War in ?Homecoming?. Dawe writes with a casual language using everyday expressions and commonly used words frequently throughout his poems. He writes in a language that everyone can understand. Dawe has the skill of being able to use a simple word-structure and rhythm to re-create his memories of the lifestyles of people and other aspects of life. Even though Dawe has this trademark of being such a colloquial style writer, his poems are still very serious and so should be thought about carefully to get the most out of the poems and to be able to see the seriousness of the meanings that Dawe is trying to put across. Such poems as ?Drifters?, ?Homo suburbiensis? and ?Life cycle? are good examples of how Dawe captures the minds of the readers about things so ordinary & everydayish but which he is actually being quite serious about.
?Drifters? is about a family who move from place to place, as the father needs to move by the demand of his job. Dawe wrote this poem in a very casual language; however, if you read it carefully you would be able to see the seriousness of what he is saying. The young children are growing up to learn no other way of life except the life of continuously moving, as they are all waiting for the day they shall move again. The children get very excited about moving from place to place ?and the kids will yell truly?. The eldest is becoming aware that their roaming lives may never change ?the oldest girl is close to tears because she was happy here?. She is becoming frustrated with her life. Dawe shows pity for the wife, as she has to go through this more than once ?she won?t even ask why they?re leaving this time?. Dawe writes sympathetically about the mother, like when she asks her husband Tom to make a wish in the last line of the poem ?Make a wish, Tom, make a wish?. Because this is a continuous event the mother is getting frustrated as at the time of packing once again she finds that she has not unpacked from there last move. Even though this poem is written in a happy tone Dawe is being serious about the issue of how a family gets upset about being stuck in a life that is continuously moving around and not being permanently settled anywhere.
?Homo suburbiensis? is set at a typical suburban home which has a vegetable garden out the back. The man is a suburban householder standing alone in his backyard on a quiet evening among his vegetables. The imagery suggests that Dawe is both celebrating suburbia, while in some ways putting down the suburban householders dreams. Dawe's tone seems nearly humorous. The man?s thoughts are lost escaping the pressures that come with life. Dawe shows a sympathetic look towards this man ?lost in a green confusion?, as even in the retreat of his backyard he still cannot escape his pressures in life, ?time, pain, love, hate, age, war, death, laughter, fever?. It can be seen quite easily in this poem that even whilst Dawe is writing colloquially a strong seriousness is coming across to the reader.
The poem ?life- cycle? is based on Aussie Rules Football. Football is portrayed as a religion, as its tradition is life sustaining with no other thing better to do than support football. Even though football is a very everyday, casual topic, Dawe is still being very serious, because he knows that some Australians do take football this seriously. Dawe uses the language of football freely ? barracking?carn?streamers? demons? saints?ladder?three- quarter-time?. The slang that he uses is very catchy and easy to understand. Dawe?s manner is slightly disrespectful but gently so. He respects the strength of football and the life sustaining qualities it offers. The point he tries to state is the power and passion of Victorian football is wonderful to watch. ?Life-cycle? was also written very colloquially but the reader should still not underestimate the seriousness of what he is saying.
From the three poems previously discussed it can be seen that even though Dawe has the trademark of being such a colloquial style writer, it should not lead the reader to underestimate the seriousness of what he is saying. Dawe goes into the depths of people?s lives and makes their problems obvious to the reader. He faces people?s problems that are not brought up everyday and that are sometimes ignored. He is still able write about these serious aspects of life in a casual and simple language so that the reader can understand. The not so serious topics that he also writes about are also seriously written and take a lot of thought from Dawe to come up with the poem that whilst writing colloquially are still being very serious.

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