Friday, 10 April 2020

An Unfussed Kind of Eloquence

Bruce Dawe, one of Australia's most popular poets, died on April 1. “His poetry has an unfussed kind of eloquence," the late Les Murray said of him, "wonderfully pitched so it will speak to people of little education or great education." John Kinsella argues Dawe's common man touch came with a profound social conscience:
Always behind Dawe’s seemingly playful banter with us, his readers and public, is his commitment to sympathy and connection with the less empowered, the disenfranchised, downtrodden, neglected and exploited. He differentiates between the human foibles shown and exercised by power, and those of people who have little or no power. Dawe wrote against tyranny, brutality and totalitarianism.
Kinsella also reminds us that it was easy to overlook other aspects of his strengths as a poet:
Yet it was also in his “topical” teachability that sometimes schoolkids missed out on Dawe’s lyrically tender side – where irony, pathos and excoriating acerbity are put on hold to show the gravity of personal loss, of the essence of living shared by all.
Among Dawe's best poems—and one that shows both sides of his considerable gifts—is "Homecoming," written in 1968 during the Vietnam war.

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