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The point of a victorian hangman

Bruce Dawe is pleasantly colloquial, while still writing with a point

A Victorian Poet Tells his Point

Bruce Dawe has a wonderfully natural way of writing, using such comfortable colloquial language and phrases, that one could be lead to believe he were telling a story, just to her. His poems range from humorous, to serious, from mocking to grieving, and each has an important point to make, however small it may be. ?Life-Cycle? is entirely colloquial, written about Victorian youngsters? ?lifetime of barracking?, about footy, as an Aussie way of life. ?Enter without so much as knocking? depicts the life of a ?godless money-hungry back stabbing, miserable so-and-so?, and his ?economy-sized?mum. ?Drifters?, the tale of one nomad family, desperate for stability. ?Homecoming? tells the heart rendering tale of war, and missed opportunities. Whether it is a long-awaited thank-you, a tribute to nameless heroes, or a goodbye unsaid, it is meaningful, and Dawe?s point cannot be unnoticed.

Written in free verse, with typically Australian jargon and imagery, Dawe begins ?Drifters? with the casual cadence and spontaneity of telling an anecdote. ?Drifters? is a prime example Dawe?s ingenious poetry techniques as Dawe immediately sets the scene with ?kids? running disorderly around with a kelpie ?pup? in a house with a vegetable patch, equipped with the typical ute and trailer of an Australian country family. The vegetable patch and the bottling set add a homely feel, and ?the oldest girl close to tears? provokes sympathy. But far from a simple yarn, ?Drifters? is a tribute to a mother, who notices all these things, the oldest girls misery and the youngest?s rapture in mist of packing, yet again, and uprooting. A mother, in a time where women?s suffrage was still young, but, as Dawe shows, not entirely unnoticed by the people who were most important.The green tomatoes a powerful symbol for themselves, not yet ready to be picked, plucked away prematurely from, one feels the only place this woman was prepared to call ?home?. Remembering their arrival, and her joy, ?the first of the season?, and the berries, as though something magical, something to be wished on, she says ?Make a wish, Tom, make a wish.?

A very powerful, heart rendering poem, ?Homecoming? explores the tragedy of war, and senseless deaths of many young men. As opposed to ?Drifters?s? wistful and nostalgic tone, ?Homecoming? is seriously compassionate, though still simply colloquial. Again the poem deals with domesticity, not the death itself, but the tedious acts of packaging the bodies, and sending them home. The simple images-?mortuary coolness?, ?green plastic bags?, and ?frozen sunset? instill a horror in the reader, ?Picking them up, those they can find? chillingly describes these events as nothing out of the ordinary, with familiar words and phrases. This reminds us that, unfortunately, due to the horrific amount of casualties, the packing of dead bodies, of ?curly-heads, kinky-hairs, crew-cuts, balding non-coms? became routine. Dawe juxtaposes two unlikely words- noble jets, frozen sunset, telegrams tremble for superb images. At the end of the poem, he personalizes the sadness, by taking away the anonymity of the dead. Now he writes of dogs who ?raise their muzzles in mute salute? in a ?web of suburbs? with ?spider grief?, giving the dead a home, family who telegraph, and a dog.

In a different style, Dawe uses humor, such as in ?Going? to lighten a strong subject like death, and instills hope to people for a normal life after a death. Lightly plunging into the story styled as a conversation with the deceased, lightly mocking her and her death-?you would have loved the way you went!? And there is nothing more Australian, than a family barbecue, and the ill effects of a drought on the lawn. Dawe depicts Gladys in an old dress, likening her heart to a humdrum roller blind, a domestic and common simile, though effective. He uses no complicated, high words, nor impossible statements or sentences, though in no way does he demean hi poem. It a good-bye, a closure this wonderful woman?s life whom obviously meant a lot to Dawe.

?Enter without so much as knocking? is, however, the most supreme example of Dawe?s ability to combine colloquialism with power, and get his point through without so much as a second thought. ?Shopping in the good-as-new station wagon (?495 dep. At Reno?s)?, with kids ?straight off the Junior Department rack? cannot be done without ?what the (beep beep) does that idiot think he?s doing?. The whole poem is interspersed with this hectic, conversational style, largely unpunctuated language ?because I?m telling you straight, Jim, it?s number one every time for this chicken?. Such colloquial language is descriptive of many lives, hectic and fast, than ends just as fast as it came. The ?godless money-hungry back stabbing, miserable so-and-so? dies to have ?a really first-class job done on his face (everyone was pleased)? to ?ride out to the underground metropolis?no parking tickets, no taximeters ticking?, to in fact a place Dawe hints could be better than our world. In this Poem, Dawe touches on the interesting point suggested by Socrates, on the matter of life and death who said ?... I to die, and you to live. Which is better, God only knows.? Dawe has looked at life, its heartaches, unhappiness, war, hunger, and has questioned which is better. He also refers to the ?sameness? of mass-produced people, all alike, and predictable, moulded by society with no trace of individualism allowed.

Bruce Dawe, an ingenious poet has created a trademark of colloquial writing, but this, however, should not be misinterpreted to be that he has no important, and insightful point to make. ?Drifters?, though written informally about kids, and a family with their keplie pup and veggie patch, is written as a recognition of a mother who, amidst her own sadness, does not fail to neglect those of her family. ?Homcoming?uses many similes, and metaphors, and many plays on words, though still colloquially to tribute those lives lost in war, ?bringing them home now, too early, too late.? Consequently, through his trademark colloquialism, Dawe points out to us that the world is full of sometimes gladness, and sometimes not.

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