Essay on Bruce Dawe

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Bruce Dawe

Bruce Dawe is a prominent Australian poet born in 1930, in Geelong.
His experiences as a laborer, postman, gardener, and in particular his
9 years as a sergeant in the Royal Australian Air Force, have enabled him to recollect and articulate his memories into a renowned compendium, Sometimes Gladness, which has been described as “perhaps the most successful book of verse by a contemporary Australian poet”.

His anthology contains a variety of poems. The three I will be discussing include The Day that They Shot Santa Claus, The Wholly
Innocent, and Homo Suburbiensis, all of which focus on life (or the lack of it) and its ups and downs.

The Day That They Shot Santa Claus tells a story through the eyes of a
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The poem is highly consistent throughout, as the narrator and the poet are united in the way they feel. There is a presence of imagery, which is conveyed through visualization of the events. Although the poem is relatively short; illustrating that death is tragic yet simple, it can be interpreted in a whole different way. Perhaps the poem is a criticism of the little value we place on death, and the only reactions we have towards the death of Santa are minute compared to what they should be. Interpretations, however, depend on reader reactions. The Wholly Innocent gives a first person account of a life not lived.
Like The Day That They Shot Santa Claus, the attitude of the speaker is downcast and despondent. However, the two poems differ in the way that The Wholly Innocent portrays a character that would have loved to have experienced what life has to offer, and their incessant complaints of not being able to “Rejoice at sun or star” leads us to believe that the poem is about abortion. This is supported by phrases such as “bloody space”, “down into the bucket thrust” and the reference to genocide. The poem is composed of 8 quatrains, which consist of 4 and 3 iambic feet in alternation. Therefore, the lines are even shorter than the ones featured in The Day That They Shot
Santa Claus, emphasizing Bruce Dawe’s view that abortion is immoral and simply wrong.

Homo Suburbiensis is a celebration of a man’s life. It is not a

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