Introduction To Bruce Dawe



Born in Geelong, Victoria —1930, - Son of a Labourer

  • Sister had verse published

  • Father sang ballads,- Mother recited poems of l9^(th) C.

  • Brother & he read: Westerns, thrillers and sci-fi.


  • Left school early and worked at odd jobs, - farm hand, handyman, gardener and postman.

  • Dawe joined the R.A.A.F for 9 YRS

  • Later studied at University part-time, - gaining a B.A. M.A. & Ph D.

  • Became lecturer at University in Queensland

General Poetic Features:

  • Poetry of and for the common man; the ordinary bloke, the little aussie battler.

  • poetry belongs not just for eternity and high brows; but to the ordinary person and the ordinary moment.

  • celebrates the community, the social and working class he identifies with.

  • celebrates the commonplace, rituals of ordinary experience

  • concerned with life cycles, rites of passage

  • poetry full of humourous, laconic insights (brief-to the point)

**Language **of the everyday Australians - the vernacular.

Bruce Dawe preferred lower case for his titles, however publishers generally over ruled this.

He turned everyday speech patterns of ‘ordinary Australians ‘into the cadences of poetry.

Vernacular language

  • voice of the ordinary people

  • natural realistic tones

  • celebrates the commonplace

    • natural rituals

life-cycles of ordinary experience

reflects the “passing parade of fools…. heroes, victims, innocents and lovable people who fill our day”.

Uses Demotive¹ language - provides emotional distancing, reflecting our attitude of detachment, non-involvement.

^(1\ Opposite\ of\ emotive)

Though tone may often be satiric;

  • it is also full of affection

  • Often provides a disturbing challenge to accepted values

Common Themes:

  • Modern living, Suburbia, loneliness, old age, death & love

  • War and its detrimental effects on all.

  • Sport

  • Commercialism

  • realistic; not glamourised portrayal of Australians

  • dislike of authority, politicians, commercialism.