Sunday, December 18, 2011


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Poetry is a creative form of expression. The poet is able to explore a wide range of emotions and themes using poetic techniques. Poems position readers and in turn, readers have their own beliefs which impact on their readings, affecting the meaning they make of the poem. Bruce Dawe is an Australian poet who writes about everyday life. Homecoming is about American as well as Australian mens death in the Vietnam War, how they were treated after dying and how they were brought back home. It was written in 168 during the war with the intent of making its audience aware of the senselessness and tragedy of war. Bruce Dawe’s selection of poetic techniques such as repetition, rhythm, personification, similes, and has brought forward the theme to the reader, allowing the reader to easily understand it. The poem is clearly an anti-war poem and is presented in 1 lines of broken verse. In one demanding stanza, Dawe recounts how they are bringing home the bodies in deep freeze lockers, “...zipped up in green plastic bags and bringing them home, now, to late. The title serves as a constant reminder of what may have been. Rather than coming home celebrating their heroic survival, they are being brought home dead.

In 157, communist terrorists began to attack villages in South Vietnam. This fighting gradually developed Into the Vietnam War, which continued through the 160s into the 170s. Most fighting in the war took place in rural areas of the South. The world’s reaction to the war was very different to all the other wars that had come before the Vietnam War. Lots of people thoughts that Australia and the United States shouldn’t of become involved in it. The Vietnam War was the first war that was televised and due to television, people at home became aware of the horror of war and its effects.

My personal experience to this poem is when in a whole two weeks my great grandmother died then three days after my dog died. This had me heart broken because I felt that I wanted to say many things to them which I didn’t and I got so mad and angry that I wouldn’t be myself for awhile. This experience to me was quite the same as “Homecoming” where all their families and friends would have thought that they would be home soon and after they knew they weren’t coming back home.

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Bruce Dawe uses a number of clever poetic techniques in order to express his feelings towards war. The repeated use of they and theyre in the first section suggests the impersonal relationship between the bodies and their handlers. It separates and distances the live soldiers from their dead friends and comrades, which highlights that they were very busy and they had loads of dead bodies. This shows the readers that this is the harsh reality of war. The soldiers allowed the human luxury of compassion to overcome them every time they saw yet another dead body, it would be too unbearable. In line 17 where it states “ home, home, home” this implies that the soldiers are finally coming home but in others mind it is very heart broken because of the deaths that the Vietnam had. Repetition of the suffix -ing in bringing, zipping, picking, tagging” and giving, describes the actions of the body processors. These verbs imply life and liveliness, in harsh contrast to the lifeless, cold body that they handle each day. It also is constant and in the present which is always happening. Repetition is used effectively to emphasise the shocking ruthlessness that has been demonstrated in all wars throughout history.

In the first section of the poem, rhythm is used to cause a clumsy sound that is repeated through the use of pauses and forms a direct beat. The rhythm implies a slow, automatic process, like a steady beat of helicopter blades. In the second phase of the poem, this rhythm is abandoned. This is because the bodies are being taken from the country that the war is in and being brought back home to be laid to rest in heaven.

Personification is depicted in the poem to present the theme of the senseless loss of life.

Personification of the telegrams shows them as trembling under the heavy load of the news they must deliver, ending hope for families wishing their loved ones shall return all alive

“telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree” (line )

The relation of telegrams to leaves falling from a “wintering tree” is a powerful image, providing the reader with some idea of the large number of dead soldiers. This encourages the reader to endorse the theme of uselessness of war being that war only creates hatred and in economic terms both are losers.

The poetic technique of similes is an important technique to help the reader to mentally picture one thing as being ‘like’ or ‘as’ another

The noble jets are whining like hounds.” (line 10)

This simile emphasises the destructive characteristics of war, also portraying dogs as sympathetic feelers of human emotion. For these dead soldiers, there is only no big parade for the soldiers, only

the howl of their homecoming (line )

The twenty one-gun salute is mocked by the words

“raise muzzles in mute salute,” (line 7)

This is further establishing the notion of dogs as man’s best friend and the returning men will not be treated to a full military burial. These men who have gone to the war have given up their lives and they got no recognition for this act except from their dogs. This emphasises the concept of war as non-humanising. Bruce Dawe uses an effective simile to remind the reader again of the dead men

in their sterile housing they tilt towards these like skiers (line 1)

The last words

now, too late, too early.” (line 1)

This is another statement that leaves the reader to interpret them in their own way. I feel that it may be explained by saying that it is too late, because dead soldiers can have no joy in their homecoming, but too early, because their families left behind are yet to understand and cope with the grief at hand.

Overall, the tone of the poem Homecoming summarises the hopeless sorrow that Bruce Dawe feels for the young soldiers who are killed in wars all around the world. I appreciate what Bruce Dawe is doing and rate it a powerful indictment of Australian involvement in Vietnam. My personal choice for choosing this poem is that I like poems that have a central focus. Bruce Dawe’s skillful writing plays an influential part on our emotions; the injustice of killing young men and its overwhelming reality is delivered in many observable details. Instead of saying I enjoyed the poem, let me say I value Bruce Dawe’s poem that is extremely memorable.

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