Kenneth Slessor

Poem 1: Beach burial Kenneth Slessor wrote the poem Beach Burial whilst he completed his occupation as the official Australian Correspondent in the Middle East. Due to Slessors observations of the war at close quarters he soon learnt about the horrific horrors of war. During Slessor’s stay in El Alamein a small village found on the Egypt Mediterranean coast he wrote the poem to describe the realities of war and what realistically happens after heroes are killed.

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Kenneth Slessor has used imagery and various poetic techniques to establish his purpose to the audience in his poem Beach Burial. Slessor has successfully conveyed his purpose to create a high depth of sympathy and pity for the soldiers who have washed up to the shore after being killed in action or died during the voyage at sea. the poem beach burial is not a typical war poem; there are no celebrations of heroics or patriotic notions.

It’s a somber recount slash tribute to soldiers of all nations whether friend or foe who where all united by the common enemy war and death. the poem reflects upon the loss of identity as the soldiers became part of a machine. Which relates to all Australians as at this time in history everyone was affected by the loss of lives fighting for what Slessor though an unnecessary occurrence, which is demonstrated in the poem.

The language used in the poem explores a soft tone of onomatopoeic sounds such as HUMBLY SWAYS SOFTLY lulling us into a false sense of calm as the poem continues and uses harsher strident tones such as CHOKE GHOSTLY BEWILDERED PITY to further illuminate the emotional impact the poem carries. Slessor uses Rhyme to create an intense emotional reaction from the audience through the use of the rhyming pattern ABCB as it creates a sense of flow for the audience.

Slessors use of half rhyme creates standstills in the poem where the audience are forced to stop and reflect on the realities of war and realize how many men are forgotten after they have served their time and fought humbly for their countries. The line “ wavers and fades, the purple drips the breath of the wet season washed their inscriptions as blue as drowned men’s lips” describes the way the men are forgotten after death. Slessor really tries to make the audience recognise.


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