Tatsuya Shiihara English Poetry Year 11 Term 2 Semester 1 2014
English Poetry Analysis Commentary
Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Tatsuya Shiihara, and today I will be presenting to you my
interpretation of the poem "The Last War", written by Australian poet, Katherine Gallagher.
This poem expresses the feelings of the "winning" countries before, during and after the Second
World War and the anticipation which the end of the war built. Born in 1935, in the town of Maldon,
in Victoria; Gallagher went through the 2nd World War as a child, and as a result, experienced many
adversities that came with it, such as fear of loved ones not coming home and rationing of food. I
believe that this poem is unique in the way that it represents an important point of view on the
ending of the 2nd World War, not just because it is Australian, but because it also conveys a form of
acceptance and sorrow over the destruction caused by the atomic bombing on Japan.
Gallagher uses many techniques, notably metaphors, to represent emotions felt by people,
emphasising their desperation when waiting for news in the line "Ears keyed to the wireless" and
'Ghost Towns', used to aid readers visualise the devastating situation, allowing for them to
understand the ravages of the war. The final line, 'the pit of ash beneath our tongues', is a distinctive
metaphor in that I believe it to not only represent the residue of atomic fires, but also the
inescapable legacy that had been passed down, which is indisputably the objectionable usage of the
Symbolism also helps share Gallagher's perspective on the war. The line "our teacher joining in"
symbolises how even adults celebrated the event by having fun, something which they would not