Home-Coming Analysis

Good morning/afternoon teacher and classmates. Last week, our group was designated to analyse the poem Home-Coming by Australian poet Bruce Dawe, who was born in 1930 in Geelong, Victoria. Out of the four siblings in the family, he was the only one to ever attend a proper secondary school. Previously being a part of the Royal Australian Air Force in 1959, his purpose for writing this particular poem was because of the Vietnam War, which claimed a seemingly endless number of lives. This really angered him and so he dedicated this poem to the casualties during the war. In our analysis of the poem, we noticed that the poem effectively incorporated a variety of useful techniques which significantly enhanced the subtle meaning behind the poem. With the clever use of language and structural devices, Bruce Dawe was really able to augment his views and exhibit his true perspective upon war. Some techniques utilised throughout the passage were similes, repetition and irony, just to name a few.

In a nutshell, the poem revolves around soldiers apparently coming home from the destructive course of war to their loved ones. From the title of “Home-Coming”, the audience gain an implication of relief and happiness and it insinuates a positive atmosphere. However, later on in the poem this is found to not be the case as the status of all the soldiers are revealed to be deceased. As soon as we read this, we quickly picked up on the fact that it was an anti-war poem. In our points of view, we believe the poem resembles an elegy because of its depressing mood. Also, our group thought that the poet was striving to depict the soldiers as unimportant and expendable through a satirical perspective as well as showing us how little respect they gain from laying their lives down for our freedom.

To begin with, the first device embedded in the first section of the poem is repetition. The repetition of the word “day” in the quote “All day, day after day” presents a tedious mood in which time is moving extremely slowly and almost seems perpetual when we read it. This technique has such a strong and potent effect on the audience as it is applied in the opening lines of the poem, which forces us to have an immediate reaction. Also, the word “they’re” is continuously written later on in the poem, such as “they’re bringing them in, they’re zipping them up”. By doing this, Dawe attempts to show a somewhat mechanical and constant process of the storage of corpses, thus displaying the soldiers with the qualities of inanimate objects and not worthy of have equality to human beings. Repetition is an important aspect in this poem and gives us the stereotypical view on the soldiers fighting at war.

In addition to this, Dawe includes a descriptive array of similes that paint very vivid images in the minds of the audience, which allow them to picture the particular scene that the poet is trying to conjure. As a result, the composer is able to manipulate the imagination of readers and stimulate them into thinking about a specific theme through the use of words. In this case, Bruce Dawe induces strong visual imagery that promotes a lonely, mournful and silent atmosphere. An example of this mood is demonstrated in the quote “telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree”. To base an image upon a “wintering tree” provides negative connotations whilst also allowing Dawe to take advantage of words to reinforce the depressing mood of the text. Because of this, the strong meaning behind the similes used is an essential component in the poem of Home-coming.

Finally, the last technique adopted in the poem sparingly but effectively is irony. Dawe entices the audience to positive emotions such as hope and relief through the title of “Home-coming” which obviously is supposed to spark happiness. However, in this case, the poet deceptively turns our hope into confusion as the text then turns to a melancholy mood through quotes such as “they’re picking them up, those they can find”. The intended reaction that Bruce Dawe wants from the audience is shock, because as we read on, the soldiers are disclosed as dead people. This is where the irony lies as the content of the poem and its atmosphere almost completely contradicts the message that the title is insinuating. Furthermore, another instance of irony is the phrase “frozen sunset”. Once again, these words build up a cold and desolate basis for the mood of the poem.

Bruce Dawe has combined a number of techniques such as irony and similes in this anti-war poem that makes the audience wonder about the terrible effects of war and the devastation it can bring to families. It persuades them to see through the façade of war with the twisted but true contrasts of the title and content of the poem. As well as this, the text tries to make us consider the way that we act in regards to soldiers and we they should respect them more as they are the reason why our freedom is able to be reserved for the future generations.

What do you think?

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