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(Almost) Everything There is to Know About...

Bruce Dawe

Timeline of Life

Born in Victoria in 1930, now lives in Toowoomba, Queensland.

He is a contemporary Australian poet. His poems are written in the context of post-war
His poetry comments on Australian society and forces reader to question their place in
Australian society.
Dawes poetry is accessible to a wide audience and often represents the experience of
the average Australian.

1929- 1932 The Great Depression

1930- Bruce Dawe born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia

1939- World War II begins

1944- Dawe transfers to Northcote District High School and completed the Intermediate

1954-1978 his poems collected in the compilation Sometimes Gladness

1956- Left school to become a legal clerk. Returned to Melbourne, working as a postman,
Hungarian revolution begins. Olympic Games held in Melbourne. Burial Ceremony relies
on both of these

1958- He was unemployed and almost destitute

1959- He joined the airforce and remained there for nine years in the education section

--Enter Without So Much as Knocking published- reflecting the values of the 1950s whilst
remaining true to the materialism of todays Australia

1962- Offered a contract by the publisher F.W. Cheshire. Stimulated further writing for a
collection entitled No fixed Address.

1964- Married his wife, Gloria. Also dedicated his second volume of poetry A Need of
Similar Name

1965Breakthrough published

1966- He was posted to Butterworth in Malaysia. Second poetry volume wins the Ampol
Arts Award for creative literature

-- The Not So Good Earth is published

1967- The last hanging in Australia (Ronald Ryan hanged in Victoria) Referenced by A
Victorian Hangman Tells His Love

1968-Dawe left the airforce. Published another collection of poetry An Eye for a Tooth

--Homecoming written

1964- Conscription in Australia for Vietnam War

1969- Dawe graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree by external study form the University
of Queensland, began teaching at Downlands College. Fourth collection of poetry Beyond
the Subdivisions was published at the end of the year.

1970- Anti-Vietnam War moratorium marches held in many capital cities. Dawes first
retrospective collection Condolences of the Season was published.

-- Weapons Training written

1972- Moved to a Lectureship in English at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced

Education, Vietnam War over

1974Pleasant Sunday Afternoon published

1977 Tele vistas Published

1980- Dawe graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Queensland

1982 Bedroom Conversations published

1983- Left his full time lecturing post for a part-time teaching fellowship

1984- Dawe was a writer-in-residence at UQ

1987- Speaking in Parables an anthology compiled by Dawe was published

1992- Dawe awarded the Order of Australia for his literature

1993- Retired from full-time teaching

1995- Appointed as first Honorary Professor of USQ in recognition of his contributions to the

Things to Consider When Analysing Poetry

Title of the poem

o Hidden meanings
o Connotations
o Who is speaking and who they represent
o How the voice is important for achieving the purpose
o The tone of the voice and how it relates to the purpose
o Alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, repetition, rhyme, rhythm
o Stanzas, Enjambment
o Point of view, narration
o Thematic structure - where different ideas are developed
o Metaphor, simile
o Allusion
o Symbolism
o Contrast, binary opposition
o Effect on overall mood
o How it contributes to the purpose
o Symbolism
o Allegory

Key Questions for Understanding Poetry

What issues and ideas do you think the poem deals with?
How are these issues and ideas being represented?

Who is telling the story of the poem? Through whose eyes do we see the characters and
events of the poem?
Briefly describe the thoughts and feelings of the person writing the poem.
Describe the cultural context of the poet. How does this influence their opinion of the
subject of the poem? How is this reflected in their poem?

What is the governing mood or emotion of the poem: happiness? sadness? anger?
indignation? seriousness? amusement?
Does the mood of the poem change? How is this evident? What effect does this have
on the reader?

What do you think is the poets opinion of the subject of the poem? What do you think
their opinion is of their audience? How is this conveyed?

Do you think the words are well chosen and vivid? Why has the poet selected the
specific words they have?
Is the language colloquial, formal, descriptive etc? What purpose does this serve? How
does this impact on the reader?

Has the poet used techniques such as metaphor, simile and symbolism? What is the
purpose of these techniques? How do they impact on the reader?
How does the use of imagery help to convey the poets message?

What sound devices have been used (e.g. assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia)? What
effect do they have on the reader?
How do you think the poem should be read aloud: softly? loudly? Justify your answer.
Do you think there are any particular words or phrases that require greater emphasis
than others? Why?
What effect does the rhyming scheme (if any) of the poem have on you?

What rhythm do you perceive in the poem? Is the movement slow, steady, fast?
Is the rhythm constant or does it vary? What impact does this have on the reader?

How is the poem arranged? Does it have stanzas? How are they organised?
Does the shape or structure of the poem affect its meaning? How?

Personal Response
How does the poem inspire feelings, emotions or reactions?
What does the poet want you to take away from this poem? What message are they
trying to send?

Poets Technique

Technique Definition Example

Rhetorical questions A question asked for In lines 3, 4, 6, 16, 22 and 27 of Weapons
effect, not designed to Training, Dawes narrator (the drill
elicit a response. sergeant) asks rhetorical questions. The
questions such as are you a queer?
and what are you laughing at are
designed to demonstrate the harsh tone
of the sergeant. The questions
encourage the men to reflect negatively
on their intelligence and masculinity,
strengthening their reliance on the
orders of their commanding officer. The
use of rhetorical questions here also
demonstrates that the narrator does not
care about the responses of the men;
the narrator does not want the men to
think for themselves, simply to respond
automatically (like weapons).
Colloquial language Informal language; On lines 1, 4, 9-10, 19-20, 21, 23 (among
language that denotes others) of The Not So Good Earth,
familiarity. Can also be Dawes narrator utilises colloquial
more specific (such as language. The use of diction such as For
Australian colloquial a while there helps to create a casual
language). tone to the poem. This supports the
recount of the personal anecdote (i.e.
contributes to the idea that the narrator
is telling a story to a friend) and
demonstrates the desensitisation of the
Australian audience to the scenes they
are exposed to on the television. The
casual tone created by the use of
colloquial language contrasts with the
serious nature of the television program
which encourages the reader of the
poem question the morals of the
Weapons Training
- youve copped the bloody lot
Compound words The formation of a new Dawe uses compound words for a
word by joining two variety of reasons, for example to add
words together. rhythm to a particular line, to create a
paradox or to draw parallels to a
particular discourse. In Enter Without So
Much As Knocking, Dawe uses

compound words from lines 10 to 13.
The words set-up, well-equipped,
smoothly-run and economy-size are all
reflective of language commonly used in
advertising. The combination of the
compound words with the use of
neologisms such as Anthony Squires-
Coostream-Summerweight Dad serves
to reinforce the theme of consumerism
and constructs the protagonists family
members as products, illustrating Dawes
opinion about the corrupting nature of
the consumer-driven post-War
Australian society.
Emotive language Language designed to Burial Ceremony
elicit a strong emotional
response from the
reader; usually highly
descriptive in nature.
Diction Specific choices in words
or phrases; often
figurative language. It is
appropriate to analyse
diction when you can
discuss the connotations
of particular word
Contrast The opposite of a simile; Burial Ceremony
when a poet describes - Contrast between the Australian
the differences between people and the revolting students in
two things. Hungary
Mood The atmosphere created A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
by the poet that elicits - Eerie, sickening, off-putting and
an emotional response shocking
from the reader.
Tone Refers to how the poet Burial Ceremony
feels about the subject - Satirical tone, then changes to sombre
of their poem. tone
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- Empathy for the bride - person being
- Sinister tone for middle part

Suspense The build-up of events Americanized

to capture the attention - Mother walking in
of the audience until the
outcome is revealed

Setting The place, time and Burial Ceremony
culture in which the - Australia, Hungary
action takes place Weapons Training
- Training camp, Vietnam
- Vietnam, Australia
Characterisation The process by which an Weapons Training
author makes a - Dialogue of the drill sergeant shows
character real to readers him to be brutal
Narration The voice of the person Weapons Training
telling the story. An - Narrated by the sergeant
unreliable narrator A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
provides an - Narrated by the hangman
interpretation of the The Not-So-Good Earth
events that is somehow - Australian kid in their living room
different from the
interpretation of the
author, usually as the
result of young age,
inexperience, or
Point of view The mental position The Not-So-Good Earth
from which things are - Australian kid in their living room with
viewed, perception of their family watching TV
events in the poem
Repetition The repeated use of Weapons Training
particular sounds, - You're dead, dead, dead
words, phrases, Homecoming
sentences, etc to - theyre high, now, high and higher
structure a text. - home, home, home
Hyperbole A boldly exaggerated
statement that adds
emphasis without
intending to be literally
true. Used for serious,
ironic or comic effect.
Anaphora The repetition of the Homecoming
same word(s) at the - Theyre picking them... Theyre
beginning of adjacent bringing them... theyre zipping them...
lines, sentences or etc
stanzas Americanized
- She loves him... She loves him... She
loves him...
Burial Ceremony
- Under the muffling... Under the
bright... Under the recurring... etc

Punctuation/syntax Marks that show the Weapons Training
structure and - Almost no punctuation to show
organisation of aggression and brutality
The grammatical
arrangement of words
in sentences
Parenthesis () [] {}
Also called brackets.
Separate an idea that is
connected to the rest of
the text, but would not
suit the flow of the
Ellipsis ... Homecoming
Pause. Incomplete - the desert emptiness...
sentence, leaves the Burial Ceremony
reader wondering and - remains a quaint local custom...
thinking about the ideas - compliment of their death...
Em Dash - Americanized
A pause or break in - ... electronic brains/ - what child of
reading, similar to simple origins could want more?
Capitalisation There are two types: Americanized
1. When words are - an invalid called the World
written in completely
upper case letters.
Creates emphasis.
Indicates anger,
shouting or panic.
2. When the first letter
is capitalised, and the
remaining letter are
written in lower case.
Suggests personification
of the object, giving in
human qualities.
Extended Metaphor A sustained comparison Americanized
in which part or all of a - Mother: USA; child: smaller country
poem consists of a A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
series of related
Symbolism When a person, object,
image, word or event is
used to evoke a range of
additional meaning

beyond its literal
significance and
suggests something
greater than itself.
Metaphor A comparison between Weapons Training
two unlike things - elephant ears
without using the words
like or as. It asserts
the identity of dissimilar
things. Two seemingly
unlike things are linked
in the form of implicit
comparison to suggest
some kind of identity.
Creates dramatic effect.
Simile An explicit comparison Homecoming
between two things - tremble like leaves from a wintering
using the words like, tree
as, appears, than - they tilt towards these like skiers
or seems. The A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
differences between the - sink into the generous pool of public
two things add to the feeling as gently as a leaf
effect of the simile.
Imagery Descriptions that appeal Weapons Training
to the readers senses, - breath hot on your stupid neck -
suggesting mental shows readers how close they were to
images of sights, danger, building fear
sounds, tastes, feelings
or actions. Conveys
sensory impressions,
emotions or moods
Allusion A brief reference to a
person, place, thing,
event or idea from
literature to enrich the
authors work. It implies
reading and cultural
experiences in the
reader. Provides an
emotional and
intellectual context.
Biblical allusion A brief reference to a A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
person, place, thing, - The last three members of our holy
event or idea from the family
Bible, which conjures up
Biblical authority to
enrich the authors

work. It implies reading
and cultural experiences
in the reader. Provides
an emotional and
intellectual context.
Personification A form of metaphor in Homecoming
which human - noble jets - creates irony and there
characteristics are are no longer soldiers to fly them.
attributed to non- Forgets the noble soldiers.
human things. Familiar
human behaviours and
emotions are assigned
to animals, inanimate
objects and abstract
Dehumanisation Degrading people and Weapons Training
making them inferior, - Dehumanisation of the enemy
taking away human - Soldiers elephant ears
qualities A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- The journalists are ready with the
flashbulbs of their eyes
Consonance A type of near-rhyme
that involves having
identical consonant
sounds preceded by
different vowel sounds.
Alliteration The repetition of the Americanized
same consonant sounds - fat, friendly features
in a sequence of words, - popping him on his plastic pot
often at the beginning - formidable footsteps
of the words. - beat with bats wings
Emphasises key words - frightening fact
and adds rhythm.
Assonance The repetition of
internal vowel sounds in
nearby words that do
not end in the same,
emphasising important
words in the line.
Onomatopoeia The use of a word that Weapons Training
resembles the sound it - click
denotes. - pitter-patter
Comedy A work intended to
interest, involve and
amuse the reader, in
which no terrible

disaster occurs and ends
happily for the main
Irony A statement expressing A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
the opposite of what is - Marriage is a happy day, a beginning;
really meant, whereby death is sad, the end
the reader is expected Homecoming
to realise the true - Title suggest loving welcome, yet the
meaning. Uses soldiers received none
statements. A
statement which, when
taken in context, can
mean the opposite of
what is written literally.
Satire A form of sarcasm. Americanized
Witty language used to - darkly satirical tone
convey insult or scorn.
Sarcasm A strong form of irony
that intends to hurt
Historical criticism Criticises the behaviour Burial Ceremony
of society in the past - Criticising the attitudes of the
with respect to the Australian people during the Hungarian
events of the time Revolution
Rhyme Similar sounds on the Weapons Training
last syllable of nearby - ABBA rhyme scheme
words. - the magazine man its not a woman's
worse luck or you'd be set too late you
- Rhyming couplet:
telegrams tremble like leaves
from a wintering tree/
and the spider grief swings in his
bitter geometry

Enjambment When a sentence in a Weapons Training

poem continues over - with the unsightly fat/ between your
onto the next line or elephant ears
stanza - for the sake of argument youve got/
a number-one blockage...
- ...scream and run/ Along the street
Rhythm The arrangement of Note the use of compound words in:

words based on the - Americanized
order of stressed and - Burial Ceremony
unstressed syllables - Homecoming
Structure The organisation of Weapons Training
syntax, stanzas, lines, - No stanzas - shows relentless yelling
rhyme in the poem. Burial Ceremony
- Three-line stanzas, except for last
stanza, which has six lines, followed by a
single line on its own
Juxtaposition Two things are placed
together to highlight
their differences and
compare and distinguish
Contradiction Between two opposing
ideas, or ideas that are
at odds. Both cannot be
Paradox A seemingly self- Homecoming
contradictory statement - frozen sunset
which in fact expresses A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
the truth - The hangman is sympathetic and
doesnt want to hang them, yet does it
Oxymoron A condensed form of a Burial Ceremony
paradox in which two - shining excrement
contradictory words are
used together. Produces
a rhetorical effect.


Extended Metaphor:

The mother is the USA and the child is a smaller country. It highlights how the
smaller country is dependent on America, like a small child to their mother. It shows
that the USA is controlling, but out of love. The smaller country seeks to please the
USA and become like them. Shows America to be overbearing, overpowering, does
not give independence, stifling the smaller country, condescending, believe its
superior and patronising.


o ABC CBA pattern
o popping him on his plastic pot - emphasis on the fact that he cannot even
perform bodily functions alone
The country is dependent on America for absolutely everything
o formidable footsteps - shows how the mother dominates and the child is
fearful of her
The smaller country feels dominated by America and fearful
o beat with bats wings - emphasises the fear the child feels
o the frightening fact sinks in
Shows that the country realises too late the restrictions America
paced on them, limiting their ability to grow and develop
She loves him too much and in the wrong way - instead of nurturing,
she is stifling him


o children scream and run/ along the street
o Each stanza is three lines long


o She loves him... - The pause invites readers to see that the child does not
necessarily return the affection, but much merely accept it.
o Shoosh... shoosh... - Silencing the child - not allowed to make decisions

Burial Ceremony
Written in response to the Hungarian Revolution as historical criticism.

Three-line stanzas
o No rhyme
Last stanza - break in pattern with six lines, then single line at end
Focus changes after elsewhere breathless
o First part: focus on Australian attitude. Satirical tone
o Second part: focus on issues in Hungary. Sombre tone.
Rhythm: beat, drum, beat:

Ellipsis - pause to reflect on situation
o remains a quaint local custom...
o compliment of their death...

Compound words - add rhythm
o ticker-taped, beauty-queens, nation-states, smoke-blackened
o Trivia
o Gloriously living
o Fretful barrage
o Brute siesta
o Quaint

Anaphora: Under the...
Paradox: shining excrement bright inconsequence
Repetition: Bury them Beat, drum, beat

Published in 1968
Written during the Vietnam War.

Present continuous verbs - show that it was happening constantly, unrelenting

hulls of Grants, in trucks, in convoys - indicates a large number of dead - so many
vehicles needed to carry them
green plastic bags - soldiers treated like rubbish, none of the respect they deserve
Deep-freeze lockers - not natural, opposite of the environment
Tan Son Nhut - Air base during the Vietnam War, mainly an American air base
curly heads, etc... shows different types of soldiers - no reference or respect to
actual soldiers or their status
higher... going to heaven
chow mein - Traditional Chinese noodle dish - shows the countryside is a mess of
bodies all mixed together. Also shows that the Australians generalised Asia as over
there and distanced themselves from the war, hence were so uncaring
home, home, home - Home has connotations of love and warmth, yet their
greeting was cold and unwelcoming.
howl - mourning or sorrow
the mash, the splendour - imagery of explosions and gunfire
dogs - the soldiers were reduced to dogs - dehumanisation - the soldiers received
no respect from humans and were not recognised for their sacrifice. Respect only
comes from the lowest parts of society.
wide web of suburbs - imagery of a spiders web - not a pleasant welcome, but
cold death
leaves from a wintering tree - simile - shows that the news is sad and cold and
empty, like winter. Connotations of death - no life. Dead are falling like leaves from a
too late, too early - shows that it was too late to save the lives of the soldiers, but
their deaths were too early, too young to die. They did not finish their work - the war
was still going. Creates a paradox.

A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
Published in 1967
- Written in response to the hanging of Ronald Ryan (1967), the last man to be hanged
in Australia.
- Conviction and penalty attracted significant media attention and protests from the

Poem is an extended metaphor, comparing hanging ceremony to a marriage

Dear one - Intimate address like in a love letter. He longs for the death to be more
private, showing the desires of the hangman.
The hangman is representative of the will of the State, a figurehead
Victorian - from title - shows it to be an archaic ritual. Also, the last man to be hung
in Victoria was Ronald Ryan.
two-piece track-suit - compound words - add rhythm
you have dreamed about this - young girls dream of getting married, yet he is
actually having nightmares about his death
some gross bee - dehumanisation
o Sinister tone: if I must bind... distract us from our end
I would dispense with - show the lack of agency or decision-making
Let us now walk a step - walking down the aisle
this noose - like this ring with which... - wedding
There. Perfect - Caesura - Suggests he is a perfectionist and loves his work. It is like
a ritual
officially prescribed darkness - shows the governments involvement
raised to the simple alter sacrifice/ marriage altar
new life - religious - irony - idea of afterlife.
sink into the generous pool of public feeling - people will feel sorry, but soon
forgotten - idea of drowning.

Simile: as gently as a leaf - creates irony - the hanging is sudden, unlike a leaf

Language: formal and old-fashioned - suggests that hanging are outdated

The Not So Good Earth

Published in 1966


Weapons Training
Published in 1970


Link to Homecoming.

o Highlights the brutality of war
o Demeaning attitudes in the army
o Inhumane - shows that soldiers and the enemy are not treated as humans
o There is no hope during war, just death all around


Presumably a military camp

Australian soldiers - using Australian slang
Vietnam war


Narrator - the drill sergeant

o Strict expectations from soldiers
Soldiers - Australian
o Submissive, robotic and inhumane
o New to the army and inexperienced


The sergeant is training the soldiers to use their weapons of war

It is assumed that the soldiers simply accepted and absorbed the instructions
o open that drain you call a mind

Also explores how soldiers were dehumanised and themselves became weapons, as seen in
the title. Weapons indicates the machine-like manner the soldiers must adopt. Training

shows that it is being drilled into them. The title suggests that they are training to use their
weapons, but reading the poem shoes that the men themselves are the weapons.

The poem begins mid-sentence, showing that the commands of the sergeant are
constant and relentless - the soldiers do not even get a chance to think or speak.
o Immediately gets the readers attention
o Introduces the idea of the soldiers being machines and conforming to the
demands of the army
Rhetorical questions
o Create a tone of bullying and aggression.
o Stereotype of a drill sergeant - shows authority - he is in charge.
o Highlights brutality
and do you know what you are?

falling dandruff - shows that they would be living in far less luxurious conditions,
lacking basic things like showers.
unsightly fat - sign of a luxurious life that must be life behind.
o Insulting them to show them whos boss


Lack of punctuation shows that the sergeant is relentless in his commands. Suggests
urgency - it is rushed out and shows that he is shouting - senseless yelling. This sets a very
commanding, brutal tone for the poem. Any pause would be seen as hesitation: a sign of
weakness. They are forced to accept his authority and dont get a chance to refuse.

This tone shows the urgency of training them to deal with war
Tells them to do everything just like I said - reiterating his authority.

The poem is divided into one stanzas to reflect the continuous stream of instructions and

Enjambment - with the unsightly fat/ between your elephant ears - signifies
the rush and urgency of the commands

Metaphor - elephant ears - reference to the look after their heads had been
shaven. Banal metaphor - shows the soldiers to be subordinate, and reflects the
character of the sergeant.

Sexual euphemisms:
cockpit drill
crown jewels
turn the key in the ignition
Used to show that they may lose their sexual functions in the
Makes the men insecure and obedient to the sergeant
womans tit
Derogatory to woman - vulgar and hateful
little yellows
fish-sauce breath
Aggravates the soldiers to encourage them to hate the enemy
Demeans the Vietnamese people to make it easier for the soldiers
to kill them
Teaching them to hate and kill
breath hot on your stupid neck - shows readers how close they were to
danger, building fear
Colloquial language
youve copped the bloody lot
queer - clich
your tripes are round your neck
click pitter-patter

Introduction to the idea and metaphor of the soldiers as machines and
conforming to commands
Even their blinking is regimented

Tripes: intestines

Rhyme for emphasis

the magazine man its not a woman's tit
worse luck or you'd be set too late you nit
Telling them to be brutal and remain focused, not to be gentle,
but aggressive.
Emphasises the brutality
o Youre dead, dead, dead - shows that their lives depend on his orders
and they must be obedient to survive. Drills the final message into their

The final line has correct punctuation, emphasising the last point to make it sink in.

Break in poem:
o ... considerably reduced? |break| allright now suppose...
First part: breaking the soldiers spirits
Second part: inspiring fear in the soldiers


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