Kenneth Slessor Transcript – Tour Guide
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Hi everyone, my name is Lachie Gingell and I’ll be your tour guide for today, I’ll be showing you two of Kenneth Slessor’s very interesting poems in the exhibition and we will go into detail about some of the features of these poems, so lets get started. Firstly, as you can see on the wall here we have Slessor’s Beach Burial poem, accompanied by an illustration. This poems’ main idea, is based on the idea of the futility of war and death. So as we read through the poem we can see a few of the very smart techniques Slessor uses to engage his audience. The tone of Beach Burial is quite powerful, it gives off a gloomy feeling and the death aspect of the poem is predominantly haunting. The first technique Slessor uses is in the third stanza which is religious iconography. As you can see in this line here it says: “and each cross” which is alluding to the Christian Cross as a symbol of religion. Slessor uses this technique to give a religious view towards the futility of war and death, while also setting up a gloomy feel. The second technique used is enjambment. This means the sentence flow is intermittent. This is seen in the fourth stanza as “Unknown seamen”. Why would Slessor do this?
Enjambment is put here by Slessor to give the audience time to think about the previous sentence, to take it all in and to put the idea in their head. This relates to death again because it’s giving the audience time to think about the deceased soldiers which also provides a haunting mood throughout the poem. The last technique I’m going to show you is known as oxymoron, which is a figure of speech that contradicts itself. We can see this further on in the third stanza, “with such bewildering pity”. Why would Slessor incorporate this into his poem? Oxymoron is incorporated here to give the audience a twisted assumption of death, to give a sign of hope, but only then to shut it down with oxymoron. So now we have an understanding of Beach Burial, let’s move on to Sensuality. Slessor has created the theme of life and the beauty of time through this poem as the theme. The tone is life affirming and joyful throughout the poem. Yet again, we can see enjambment all throughout the poem. “Feeling hunger and cold, feeling” as you can see is the first line of the poem. See how it is interrupted? Slessor implements this to make you literally stop and make you revise on the previous line. Sensuality is based on enjambment because it relates so well to life.