Thursday, January 5, 2012

kenneth slessor essay

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Kenneth Slessor’s ability to create interesting people and places is created through his use of language.

In Slessor’s poem ‘BEACH BURIAL’, he employs many language techniques to convey the lifelessness of the beach and the death of the soldiers. A powerful language tool that is consistently used throughout the entire poem is the use of contrast. Even the title ‘BEACH BURIAL’ is somewhat of a paradox where ‘beach’ has all the connotations of happy, warmth and fun while ‘burial’ promotes the notion of death, coldness and misery. Slessor introduces the poem by saying;

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“Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs” creates an eerie atmosphere, and sets the morbid tone of the poem.

He describes the soldiers as floating in convoys as it is symbolic for travelling in groups for protection, even though it is clear that the need for protection has now passed. Slessor also personifies the water to show the action of the waves rolling the dead soldiers onto the beach, has given them a sense of life. His use of alliteration throughout the first stanza creates a repetition of soft sounds to immediately implant imagery of sadness and despair.

Throughout the second stanza, Slessor incorporates the use of onomatopoeia to reflect echoes of past chaos, where men were once engaged in warfare. He uses internal forced rhyme to show the similarity of the shallow water and being buried in shallow graves. The use of sibilance is a powerful language tool as he describes a very primitive and exposed people walking on the shallow layer of sand that covers ‘their nakedness’. These techniques have been successful in recreating the soldiers and letting us visualise their surroundings.

The third stanza is describing the crosses that have been staked into the ground as a final tribute of the soldiers once alive. The use of repetition of ‘such’ emphasises the overwhelming sadness that overcomes anyone there. Slessor personifies ‘choke as they begin’ like he wishes he could express his emotions but the sadness that consumes him prevents this from happening.

The use of personification continues in the start and throughout the body of the fourth stanza, to exemplify the idea that the pencil is more alive than the soldiers. Sibilance is a very dominant language feature to make the words flow with ease in a running stream of consciousness.

Slessor sums up these roaming words in the final stanza, and changes the language patterns so the words do not flow as easily and therefore have to be registered and taken in by the reader. The pace has changed with ideas separated by punctuation marks to emphasise the point of his poem.

Throughout the entire poem Slessor uses imagery to vividly describe scenes, which points to the idea that he is an eyewitness.

He also uses a lot of contrasting language features throughout ‘BEACH BURIAL’ to show the horrific nature of war, and he makes a statement for us how ironic war can be. The poem is conclude by saying that the soldiers are now ‘enlisted on the other front’ which is a euphamism for going to the afterlife, since their mortal life has now ended. The comment is two fold with an ironic tone.

In Slessor’s poem ‘COUNTRY TOWNS’, he uses a variety of language techniques to portray his view of life in the country.

The introductory stanza is coloured with imagery, and starts off quite stereotypical and a little clich�. He uses alliteration in the phrase ‘bouncing on barrel mares’ to show slow, but consistent movement. To Slessor life in the country is much the same so he uses his words to flow calmly and steadily, as he deems life in country town to be. The introduction sets the tone and pace for the rest of the poem. Slessor portrays the feeling that country towns are quiet and slow, held back from city life and effectively separated from suburban life. He suggests than even time moves more slowly in the country. Many towns are quite similar aesthetically so the images of aged historic buildings bestow a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity. Also, by making reference to ‘general stores’ being run by ‘that mysterious race of Hogan’s’, he deliberately uses the repetition of sibilance to make it a blatant stereotype. Nevertheless, it is effective for his portrayal slow time.

The subsequent stanza advances into the town and looks in greater detail the ways that country people view their lifestyle in the country. He refers to the infamous School of Arts that seem to occupy these towns, this one in particular having been the host for ‘The Great Golightly Family’. The use of alliteration is consistent. The poster advertising the entertainers is a year and a half old, which sticks to the idea that time, is slow.

The third stanza

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