Kenneth Slessor Beach Burial Analysis

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In war, once a soldier is dead it does not matter which side he or she has fought for. This is represented in Kenneth Slessor’s poem ‘Beach Burial’ where Slessor establishes a sombre tone through using images in the poem, which form an anonymity of the soldiers. By doing this Slessor shows that he is sympathetic. Beach Burial is a harrowing elegy about loss of life through war. The rhythm of the poem is constructed in such a way as to confront the reader, and the language used throughout the poem changes from being very soft and comforting, to blunt and shocking. The image of the beach is also particularly important, as beaches represent beauty and purity. Even though this poem was written from an Australian author’s perspective, it does…show more content…
The words ‘sob’ and ‘clubbing’ echo in the ears of the reader and assist to conjure images of violent death (5). Once the soldiers are buried from the ‘shallows’ to the ‘burrows’, certain attention is paid to their nakedness under the sand (8). I do not believe that the nakedness of the soldiers is meant to be interpreted literally, but rather as a metaphor for human vulnerability, and the loss of dignity, which comes from such needles and abundant death. The image of the beach itself, commonly considered a place of beauty and purity, being soiled with the dead bodies of unknown soldiers, helps outline the fingerprints that such an event can leave on a place, or indeed, an entire country. The image of a ‘stake of tidewood’ is clearly supposed to represent a kind of cross which has been utilised to mark the graves; crosses being universal images of death and sacrifice (9). However, the use of the words ‘driven stake’ dictates a very violent and terrible end, which is synonymous with cold-blooded murder (9). This subtle composition encourages the reader to consider the realities of war, and the fact that murder, whether it is committed within the confines of war or not, is still an evil and unjust end for any
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