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“Homecoming” by Bruce Dawe

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Bruce Dawe’s “Homecoming” is a deeply moving poem, which follows the long journey home for the corpses of dead soldiers. The Vietnam war inspired Dawe to write this poem but it can easily be applied to any war. The message is the same – war kills and wastes lives.

The word ‘homecoming’ implies a time of reunion and joy. Dawe ironically uses ‘homecoming’ to depict the great sadness of dead soldiers transported back home. In the poem Dawe keeps repeating, “they’re bringing them home”, to emphasise this was meant to be a joyous moment for relatives and friends; instead, it is a moment of tragedy and grief .

“Homecoming” highlights the only product of war is death. Dawe creates war as a machine and its process line of churning out corpses with his use of many active verbs, “bringing”, “picking”, “zipping”,”tagging”, “giving” and “rolling”. Even more sorrowful is the fact the dead soldiers are referred to as “them”- they are no longer people, they are no longer worth anything to war.

Bruce Dawe effectively uses imagery to create a vividness in the reader’s mind. One of the most haunting images is the simile “telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree” and there are so many telegrams being sent to relatives of the fallen soldiers, it is like a wintering tree. In winter, a tree usually loses most its leaves; war kills most soldiers.

Dawe’s anger towards the futility of war is clearly seen in the ironic last line of the poem, “they’re bringing them home, now, too late, too early.” The dead soldiers have finally arrived home but it’s too late because they’re already dead and too early because they didn’t finish their tour of duty and their lives are totally unfullfulled.

In conclusion, “Homecoming” presents war from a different perspective – the fallen soldiers. Soldiers should not be conscripted as pawns to fight a war for disputes between governments, as life is very precious; everyone deserves to live and fullfill their lives.

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