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Kenneth Slessor’s poetry is distinctive because of its strong images

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Slessors poetry is distinctive in that it evokes string images by emphasising the mood and the setting of his subjects. He uses poetic devices such as personification, metaphors and sound to highlight his philosophical views on life.

Slessors philosophical view is evident in the poems “North country”.

“North Country” demonstrates the lack of concern towards the country land enforced by loggers. It’s a discovery of change from a peaceful country environment to the harsh and cruel takeover by technological advances in which nature is destroyed.

“When boughs at last relinquish their clench of blowing air”, this demonstrates Slessor’s concern for the loss of the trees grip on life and their struggle to remain tall. The trees have been drained of life, and this is due to the lacking care of humans to their own environment. This use of imagery, “last relinquish” adds to the dark, grim, barren tone of the poem which emphasises the destruction undertaken by humans.

Slessor expresses strong views towards the destruction of nature, and portrayed in “North country” he stresses his views on preserving environment and how this has been neglected. He suggests that due to the introduction of technology, humans have become greedy and lost any care or concern towards the environment which may have been implemented in previous society. Not only does he stress the change of values amongst humans, but also how this has impacted on nature and that wildlife has been driven out of its natural habitat and left for dead.

Through Slessors strong images of death, destruction and struggle for life presented in “North Country” with his forceful philosophical views; the great extent of distinctiveness is revealed.

Strong images of country life versus city life are highlighted in the poem “Wild Grapes”.

“Wild Grapes” is a negative poem of regret, which compares the negligence and destruction of the environment and the traditions of country life.

Distinctive images of country life are portrayed throughout the poem of what country life has resolved to. The current country life comprises of: “smoking air, full of sour marsh” which contributes to a dark melancholic tone, “grapes…black, like boughs of musket-shot”, relating to bullets which are deadly, it’s emphasising the negativity of what has become of the orchard, “only grapes, but wild ones” suggests the loss of importance, whilst “wild” is referring to the bitterness of the grapes.

Slessor views country life as being something that has depreciated in time, which has lost important values resulting in the destruction of the orchard. Slessor expresses certain regret towards this negligence and of the past-time which has no respect for the long gone pioneers.

Through Slessors strong images of a negligent country life portrayed in “Wild Grapes” suggesting his powerful philosophical views; the great extent of distinctiveness is revealed.

Images of decay are portrayed vividly in “North Country”.

Slessor uses distinctive images of decay to portray what country life has resolved to. This decay is due the repercussions of negligence forwarded by humans of modern society. “blank and wretched” suggests the way in which the trees are slowly dying, “gaunt” describes the trees as being exhausted from the takeover of technology, and “dripping red with blood” is very dark and bitter in summing up the poem that nature has lost its life and the struggle to survive industrialisation.

Slessor views country life as being taken over by technology, leaving traditional values behind to add to a final destruction. There is lack of concern for this destruction of environment as technology is now of more importance than nature.

Through Slessors strong images of decay in country life portrayed in “North Country” suggesting his powerful philosophical views; the great extent of distinctiveness is revealed.

The concept of time, timelessness and the difference between country pace and city life is evident in “Country Towns”.

“Country Towns” presents the peace and calm associated with neglecting current technology, and rather the positives of continuing the status quo of country life.

Slessor uses images of continuity to portray the backwardness and ease of country life, without the influx of technology and its many faults. “Veranda’s baked with musky sleep” suggests the impact of heat which has resulted in slow pace living and unconcern. “With ‘1860’ over their doors” suggests the continuation of tradition of country life, and “mysterious buggy wheels” infers that the country people are behind current technology times.

Slessor views country life and the timelessness it brings as being traditional and sentimental that such a place can live without conforming to new ways of life. He believes in the slow pace of life brings upon a friendly environment with little need or reason to progress.

Through Slessors strong images of continuity and timelessness amongst society of the country towns portrayed in “North Country” with his forceful philosophical views; the great extent of distinctiveness is revealed.

The use of poetic devices such as metaphor and personification are a distinctive feature of “sleep”.

“Sleep” demonstrates that being in a state of sleep is the only place where one can be truly safe, and life is the negative aspect of bring born into the world, as the peace and calm associated with sleep in the womb is taken away.

The personification of “blindly in bones that ride” and “remorseless forceps” allows the responder to relate to the connections of a child in its mothers womb. Furthermore the imagery of water “lave you with huger waves” suggests the cleansing of the child, “dissolved and bedded” describes the sinking affect of being submerged in water, and “ferry you to burial mysteriously” describes the floating of travelling along water; these all create a calming affect upon the responder, to relate more to being in a state of sleep.

Slessor views sleep as being the only place where one can be safe and free of pain, as being in a sate of unconsciousness, the harshness of life seems to seise for the time being. In relation to a child in the womb, Slessor believes that the sleep achieved inside the womb is the paramount part of existence, as once born into the world life is a disappointment.

Through Slessors use of poetic devices personification and imagery in “Sleep” used to portray the gentleness and calm of sleep; his forceful philosophical views are exalted and the great extent of distinctiveness is revealed.

Sound techniques (onomatopoeia) are used to involve the responder in Slessors poetry. The poem “Beach Burial” uses sound to emphasise the subject.

“Beach Burial’s” is a vivid emotive poem which describes the futility of war and the mourning it will result in. But also that regardless of being enemies on the war front, soldiers will unite themselves in the end to make peace.

The onomatopoeia of “sob and clubbing of the gunfire” suggests the sounds which can be heard in the distance of the guns being fired, it allows for the emphasis on the sadness war brings to everyone and everything when the guns make a whimper. A gentle tone is used in the opening stanza “softly and humbly”, which is in contrast to the noise and commotion of war used to emphasise the fact that life is also filled with noise and commotion not just in battle.

Slessor views war as being a scene of unnecessary behaviour, as war and conflict ultimately has no winner. He strongly believes that those who fought in wars should be remember and admired for their bravery and that great respect should be held for those responsible in burring the dead. He considers the deep regret as to being subject to witnessing the scenes of war, and the horror it brings with it.

Through Slessors use of sound techniques in “Beach Burial” used to portray the severity of war; his strong philosophical views are exalted and the great extent of distinctiveness is revealed.

Distinctive images and poetic devices are used extensively in Slessors poetry. This allows the responder to see, hear and feel the important subject matters, views and opinions which the composer is trying to evoke.

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