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”William Street” by Kenneth Slessor

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 691
  • Category: Poems

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In the poem, ‘William Street’ Kenneth Slessor displays a variety of ideas associated with the city in general, but narrows his poem down to direct at William Street. In this essay I will be further exploring the ideas such as the beauty of the street, the urban or city landscape is as beautiful as the country and the idea of change. Optimists are rare when it comes to the city structure and the rubbish that is present all throughout. Slessor, through his poem uses convincing language to help to view things positively and the way he views the street.

One idea Slessor is able to express is of how the urban or city landscape is as beautiful as the country. People would most agree that with the excessive amounts of land, nature and tranquillity out in the country, the city doesn’t come close to the beautiful outback. “You find it ugly, I find it lovely’ a powerful statement repeated all through the poem. He also uses tone in the sentence, to show that he stands firm with his opinion and is defiant, as it shows he views things differently and finds the beauty in all things. People may have the opinion of how the country has more beauty than a city, and one of those reason could be that the city changes and not necessarily in a good way.

Another idea this is important in this poem, “William Street’ is the idea of change, and the way it effects people and their life-style. Every day there is always another change to the world; new apartments built, one more homeless person; just sometimes not at all being a beneficial change, sometimes they are. With each change, certain people can be brought up, or put down. “ghosts’ trousers, like the dangle of hung men, In pawn-shops windows, bumping knee to knee, but none inside to suffer or condemn” Slessor uses a simile and suggesting death and danger within and around the street. With the ‘ghost’ trousers…In pawn-shops windows – it is referring that people have becoming short of money, and the best they can do, is sell their possessions; as that will hopefully change them for the better. Change can sometimes be for the better, and in Slessor’s view, the street is beautiful regardless of any positive or negative change.

One more idea that Slessor is able to convey easily and obviously is the fact that he finds that the street ‘William Street’ is just simply good. Everyone has their own view and attitude to everything, but for ‘William Street’ he is agreeing with the people who find the beauty as it is not that hard. ‘Smells rich and rasping, smoke and fat and fish, and puffs of paraffin that crimp the nose, of grease that blesses onions with a hiss’ although people prefer to indulge their senses with heavenly odours and candles, Slessor is saying that he does not mind the scents that the shops are producing and releasing. Slessor uses sibilance and imagery also; sibilance with ‘blesses onions with a hiss’ as this gives the sentence a sense of sacredness, and the nouns he has mentioned can help support the imagery technique. What Slessor was able to further establish within his poem gave it the depth and meaning required to prove his point; of how he is able to find beauty, change and the difference between dissimilar landscapes, regardless of negative opinions, good.

Pessimist; it’s easy to first look and have your mind made up over it, in a negative way; while Slessor, through this poem was able to convey the fact that he is an optimist. He saw the beauty in the street when other people screwed their nose. He finds the city just as lovely and tranquil as the country, as they have their dissimilarity, so they should be viewed differently. He also explores the meaning of change, and how it can get the better of people, but he finds without change, the city will not stay alive, with all this Slessor proves his passion for profound love and the joy it brings.

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