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"I'm not a great one for blood-red sunsets…" said Dawe. What is Bruce Dawe "a great one for"?

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Bruce Dawe: Long Essay By Carina Uehr "I'm not a great one for blood-red sunsets..." said Dawe. What is Bruce Dawe "a great one for"? T he label "Poet" carries with it many connotations, a certain mystique, which can be both favourable and not-so favourable. People expect you to be brilliant, weave words like thread. You may be classified as "arty", or "creative" or "romanticist". Bruce Dawe, however, is a modern poet. He avoids the stereotypical topics that have given this genre of writing a somewhat out-dated feel, and instead focuses on current times. Dawe uses his environment as subject-matter, his work criticising and questioning aspects of our society and standing up for people whose voices go otherwise unheard. What is Bruce Dawe a great one for? The answer is quite simple: Questioning, criticising and documenting the life around him. In the introduction of Sometimes Gladness, Dawe is asked the question, "Why do you write?" He answers, "...because I feel like it. I write out of a need to come to terms with some concern, something bugging [me]." Indeed, Sometimes Gladness seems like a collection of thoughts on a myriad of issues: Neighbours, local issues and politics, people on the streets, war (Dawe himself served in the RAAF from 1959 to 1968), television, immigrants, etc... all topics we come across and are affected by every day. Dawe lived through decades of great changes in the lives of ordinary people, which are reflected in his poetry of the time. ...read more.


This "worst-case scenario" of a police-state may be what Dawe is referring to, warning us that if this behaviour is tolerated, the entire principle of democracy can come under threat. W hile Dawe mostly seems to write didactic poetry, Sometimes Gladness also contains some lyrical and privately reflective poems, which show a completely different side of Dawe's writing style. It is quite refreshing to find some simple, beautiful poems, which are neither cynical nor satirical but peacefully reflective and observant. "Happiness is the Art of being Broken" is one of these poems. Its main theme is one of another life's inevitable fates: Age and death. At first the title is quite cryptic, not immediately identifying the subject of the poem. Only the second line completes the puzzle and introduces the theme: "Happiness art of being broken / with the least sound". Contentment in life is achieved by accepting fate with dignity and without making a fuss. Dawe here mainly refers to the elderly who "...very often / practise it to perfection", living out their last days gracefully. The second stanza describes the process of aging. "Always the first fragmentation / stirs us to fear..." refers to the first stage, when we first realise we are getting old, and refuse to believe it. (A perfect example of this is the character Roo in the play Summer of the 17th Doll by Ray Lawler. Roo has simply not noticed or acknowledged that he was growing old, until the facts were staring him straight in the face.) ...read more.


She ...felt with the characters, railed against their antagonists and ... went through 6 boxes of tissues a week..." With "Televistas", Dawe is again taking a piece of ordinary life, and with his critical, questioning way gives us an insight into our own lives. "I 'm not one for blood-red sunsets," says Dawe. No, he isn't. But neither does he need to be. In fact, one could assume that a large part of his popularity is due to that fact. Dawe takes the ordinary things that are all around us, and presents them in such a way that they are novel and appealing to us. The object itself is unchanged; Dawe has only changed our attitude towards it. Life is a sum of all its parts: conflict, sadness, aging, joy, unhappiness, love and death. Bruce Dawe does not need romantic natural spectacles to write meaningful poetry. He uses his impressions of the world around him to question criticise, reflect, joke and poke at, all the while writing down his thoughts into the poetry that I, and surely we have come to so respect and enjoy. Dawe has contributed a large part towards the large and beautiful patch-work quilt that is Australian identity. His work is already now in turn serving as inspirations for many other poets following in his footsteps. As my final statement I would like to quote some lines from his poem "Happiness Is the Art of being Broken": That day when, all identity lost, we serve As curios for children roaming beaches, Makeshift monocles through which they view The same green transitory world we also knew. ...read more.

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