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The Effect of a Distinctive Voice in Writing

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In your view, what social issues are explored in Dawe’s poetry? Explain how these issues are developed and represented in two of his poems that you have studied! Bruce Dawe is a contemporary Australian poet from the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s, writing poems protesting against the issues occurring in society that he didn’t morally believe in, these issues are still relevant in today’s society. Dawe comes from a catholic back ground and is passionate towards his religion; his catholic views were a big impact on what he wrote about in his poems, creating him to see things differently to the everyday Australian. He once quoted “the world is a brutal, mysterious, beautiful, inexplicable affair”. In the poems ‘The wholly innocent’ and ‘Homecoming’ Dawe explores and represents the social issues; moral brutality and loss of humanity. Dawe portrays the ugliness of human nature within the world; to challenge us about our moral brutality and loss of humanity within the world. Dawe represents these two social issues; moral brutality and loss of humanity through the use of poetic techniques. He uses the poetic techniques language and voice, expressing it through his Christian beliefs.

Initially the poem ‘The wholly innocent’ represents the moral brutality within human nature through Dawe portraying the ugliness of humanity. This social issue is shown throughout the poem and is represented with the use of the language technique personal pronoun, the personal ‘I’ is repeated numerous times throughout the poem. Dawe uses the personal pronoun so many times in the poem as a referral of the unborn baby; this is representing the voice of the fetus. The purpose of this poem is to protest against abortion and Dawe uses the voice of the baby as plea of survival. Dawe is challenging us to see how brutal our nature is as humans, and he uses an innocent baby to also gain more sympathy from the audience.

Additionally, in the poem ‘Homecoming’ the social issue represented is moral brutality of human nature, Dawe represents this through the use of the language technique irony. The first sight of irony is in the title ‘Homecoming’, the effectiveness of this technique in the title is because the term homecoming is meant to mean a time of celebration of someone coming home. But in the instance of the poem, homecoming isn’t for a time of happiness it is representing the dead soldiers being brought home from the Vietnam War in “green plastic bags”, the irony is used very effectively to create the sense of sorrow for the soldiers and it represents the social theme of moral brutality. Dawe has successfully portrayed the ugliness of human nature and its moral brutality through the use of irony.

Along with the moral brutality in ‘The wholly innocent’ the other social issue loss of humanity is represented in the poem. Dawe uses the voice technique paradox to convey this social issue in the poem. The paradox is “too early, and too late” the effectiveness of this is it creates the dark tone of the poem where the baby has been born to early and killed to late, it is also represented through a metaphor “this was my only lifeline” this is representing the broken trust between the unborn and the parent aborting it. The paradox and metaphor have been used successfully to show the social issue of loose of humanity; Dawe has successfully challenged us about our ways and the ugliness of them.

Also in the poem ‘Homecoming’ the other social issue that is recognized in it is the loose of humanity. Dawe wrote this poem to educate the Australian public about the Vietnam War, he uses the language technique; double metaphor “The spider grief swings in his bitter geometry” the effectiveness of this is the spiders web is acting as the public transport, and the spider is spreading the word about the death of the soldiers. It starts from the plane landing with the bodies and it forms a geographical pattern that slowly embedding people with the grief of the victims in a web like fashion. The double metaphor has been successfully used to show the effects of the loose of humanity, and it has shown us the ugliness of human nature.

Dawe portrays the ugliness of human nature within the world; to challenge us about our moral brutality and loss of humanity within the world. The use of both the language and voice techniques through Dawe’s poem ‘The Wholly Innocent‘ and ‘Homecoming‘ have successfully represent both social issues moral brutality and loss of humanity, this has challenged me as a reader to think twice about the human nature and decisions I make, and also provides me with a greater perspective of the ugliness of our society.

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