"Home Coming" By Bruce Dawe: Poem Analysis

Essay by jackosmackoHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2006

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My first impression of the title of this poem 'Home Coming' is about returning home to family, friends and joyful times. There would be a sense of warmth and welcoming home the weary traveller.

Dawe dramatises the homecoming of Australian veterans' bodies from Vietnam in his anti war poem titled 'Home Coming'. This poem is not a farce or a fantasy; it cuts into life and deaths real events.

Dawe recounts how "they are bringing" home the bodies "in deep freeze lockers"... zipped up "in green plastic bags" "bringing them home, now, too late." These quotes from the poem give a strong sense of imagery and highlight the consequences of the homecoming on a relatively stable and uncaring society back home (in Australia). Ironically, he celebrates their return home across the globe and across the international borders as they fly homeward. Homecomings are usually consoling and familiar particularly in the American culture where "home' acquires very many strong associations of rest, trust, identity and a close sense of family.

However here the term is deliberately turned upside down as the dead return home - a telling commentary on the Vietnam War and what it destroyed.

Dawe's tone presents the poem as very ironic. The drama of the historic present moment is expressed in many present participles: "picking... bringing....rolling ... whining..." In 25 lines, the poet drives us across many details and numerous particulars in the drama of death. Dawe's point of view is not uncritical. The irony is that the young are brought back to the old cities and small towns where they were raised. Thus forth a spider web of grief "in his bitter geometry" spreads across the land infecting all who read the poem.

Dawe uses strong oxymoron's to highlight the bitterness and irony...