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Cultural Identity In Bruce Dawe's Poetry

6 Pages 1486 Words

Bruce Dawe’s poems “Homecoming” and “At Shagger’s Funeral” in Sometimes Gladness reveal significant aspects about Australian cultural identity. “Homecoming” questions Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War by describing the homecoming flight of the soldier’s bodies over the Australian landscape. The profound sense of loss and futility is foregrounded by exposing the men’s sense of belonging in both rural and urban Australian communities and their connection to the land. “At Shagger’s Funeral” explores the nature of the Australian cultural identity through the events and emotions surrounding the funeral of a typical ‘aussie bloke” who valued mateship and lived for the day. The representations explored by these poems include the wholesome, rural environment, sense of patriotism towards protecting the values and attitudes that are uniquely Australian, the masculine ‘ocker’ stereotype and the lack of adhering to a religion.

Bruce Dawe’s “Homecoming” explores the representation of Australia’s rural and wholesome cultural identity. The dead portrayed in the poem all have a place to return to, where they once called home, whether in the suburban cities or country towns. The poem uses images that are quintessentially Australian. The image of the dogs who “raise muzzles in mute salute” in honour to the dead, connotates both the idea of the simple life and the strong relationship between the sheep dog and farmer in rural Australia. The dog also symbolises the community’s sense of loss. Australians are thought of as having a sense of place as people do not disappear into anonymity but are valued by communities for their individual identity. This concept is valid to some extent but marginalizes groups such as the homeless, unemployed or those without family. The role of the physical environment in constructing such aspects of cultural identity is also significant in “Homecoming” describ...

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