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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
effect, not designed to
elicit a response.
In lines 3, 4, 6, 16, 22 and 27 of Weapons
Training, Dawes narrator (the drill
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;
language that denotes
familiarity. Can also be
more specific (such as
Australian colloquial
On lines 1, 4, 9-10, 19-20, 21, 23 (among
others) of The Not So Good Earth,
Dawes narrator utilises colloquial
language. The use of diction such as For
a while there helps to create a casual
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
word by joining two
words together.
Dawe uses compound words for a
variety of reasons, for example to add
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
elicit a strong emotional
response from the
reader; usually highly
descriptive in nature.
Burial Ceremony

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;
when a poet describes
the differences between
two things.
Burial Ceremony
- Contrast between the Australian
people and the revolting students in
Mood The atmosphere created
by the poet that elicits
an emotional response
from the reader.
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- Eerie, sickening, off-putting and
Tone Refers to how the poet
feels about the subject
of their poem.
Burial Ceremony
- Satirical tone, then changes to sombre
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- Empathy for the bride - person being
- Sinister tone for middle part

Suspense The build-up of events
to capture the attention
of the audience until the
outcome is revealed
- Mother walking in
Setting The place, time and
culture in which the
action takes place
Burial Ceremony
- Australia, Hungary
Weapons Training
- Training camp, Vietnam
- Vietnam, Australia
Characterisation The process by which an
author makes a
character real to readers
Weapons Training
- Dialogue of the drill sergeant shows
him to be brutal
Narration The voice of the person
telling the story. An
unreliable narrator
provides an
interpretation of the
events that is somehow
different from the
interpretation of the
author, usually as the
result of young age,
inexperience, or
Weapons Training
- Narrated by the sergeant
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- Narrated by the hangman
The Not-So-Good Earth
- Australian kid in their living room
Point of view The mental position
from which things are
viewed, perception of
events in the poem
The Not-So-Good Earth
- Australian kid in their living room with
their family watching TV
Repetition The repeated use of
particular sounds,
words, phrases,
sentences, etc to
structure a text.
Weapons Training
- You're dead, dead, dead
- theyre high, now, high and higher
- 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
same word(s) at the
beginning of adjacent
lines, sentences or
- Theyre picking them... Theyre
bringing them... theyre zipping them...
- 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
structure and
organisation of
The grammatical
arrangement of words
in sentences
Weapons Training
- Almost no punctuation to show
aggression and brutality
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 ...
Pause. Incomplete
sentence, leaves the
reader wondering and
thinking about the ideas
- the desert emptiness...
Burial Ceremony
- remains a quaint local custom...
- compliment of their death...
Em Dash -
A pause or break in
reading, similar to
- ... electronic brains/ - what child of
simple origins could want more?
Capitalisation There are two types:
1. When words are
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.
- an invalid called the World
Extended Metaphor A sustained comparison
in which part or all of a
poem consists of a
series of related
- Mother: USA; child: smaller country
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
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
two unlike things
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.
Weapons Training
- elephant ears
Simile An explicit comparison
between two things
using the words like,
as, appears, than
or seems. The
differences between the
two things add to the
effect of the simile.
- tremble like leaves from a wintering
- they tilt towards these like skiers
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- sink into the generous pool of public
feeling as gently as a leaf
Imagery Descriptions that appeal
to the readers senses,
suggesting mental
images of sights,
sounds, tastes, feelings
or actions. Conveys
sensory impressions,
emotions or moods
Weapons Training
- breath hot on your stupid neck -
shows readers how close they were to
danger, building fear
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
person, place, thing,
event or idea from the
Bible, which conjures up
Biblical authority to
enrich the authors
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- The last three members of our holy

work. It implies reading
and cultural experiences
in the reader. Provides
an emotional and
intellectual context.
Personification A form of metaphor in
which human
characteristics are
attributed to non-
human things. Familiar
human behaviours and
emotions are assigned
to animals, inanimate
objects and abstract
- noble jets - creates irony and there
are no longer soldiers to fly them.
Forgets the noble soldiers.
Dehumanisation Degrading people and
making them inferior,
taking away human
Weapons Training
- Dehumanisation of the enemy
- Soldiers elephant ears
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
same consonant sounds
in a sequence of words,
often at the beginning
of the words.
Emphasises key words
and adds rhythm.
- fat, friendly features
- popping him on his plastic pot
- formidable footsteps
- beat with bats wings
- frightening fact
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
resembles the sound it
Weapons Training
- click
- 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
the opposite of what is
really meant, whereby
the reader is expected
to realise the true
meaning. Uses
statements. A
statement which, when
taken in context, can
mean the opposite of
what is written literally.
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- Marriage is a happy day, a beginning;
death is sad, the end
- Title suggest loving welcome, yet the
soldiers received none
Satire A form of sarcasm.
Witty language used to
convey insult or scorn.
- darkly satirical tone
Sarcasm A strong form of irony
that intends to hurt

Historical criticism Criticises the behaviour
of society in the past
with respect to the
events of the time
Burial Ceremony
- Criticising the attitudes of the
Australian people during the Hungarian
Rhyme Similar sounds on the
last syllable of nearby
Weapons Training
- ABBA rhyme scheme
- 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
poem continues over
onto the next line or
Weapons Training
- with the unsightly fat/ between your
elephant ears
- 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
order of stressed and
unstressed syllables
- Americanized
- Burial Ceremony
- Homecoming
Structure The organisation of
syntax, stanzas, lines,
rhyme in the poem.
Weapons Training
- No stanzas - shows relentless yelling
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-
contradictory statement
which in fact expresses
the truth
- frozen sunset
A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love
- The hangman is sympathetic and
doesnt want to hang them, yet does it
Oxymoron A condensed form of a
paradox in which two
contradictory words are
used together. Produces
a rhetorical effect.
Burial Ceremony
- shining excrement

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