Poem Essay

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Question 1: On the Death of Ronald Ryan Bruce Dawe is well known for devising poems that present serious issues relevant to Australian society. The issue of capital punishment in Australia is displayed though the poem On the Death of Ronald Ryan, by the use of various literary devices. By examining the literary devices used by Dawe, the reader is led to question their opinion on the subject of capital punishment. On the Death of Ronald Ryan is a simple, unadorned poem, however through Bruce Dawe’s use of subject matter, tone and voice and imagery and rhythm the reader is led to understand Dawe’s opinion, and thus form their own on this emotive topic. The subject matter contained within the poem, On the Death of Ronald Ryan is designed to evoke the reader’s own feelings on capital punishment. The body of the poem depicts the last minutes of the life of Ronald Ryan. We are given startling image of Ryan on the trapdoor, bravely waiting his end. A biographical detail is used, that he refused to be tranquilised. This makes him appear noble and brave, despite the fact that he was a murderer he is the one who emerges from this event with dignity, ‘You died most horrifyingly like a man.’ We are also made to feel guilty as he as described as ‘white faced’ beneath his hood. Dawe is not trying to exonerate him or make a case that he was wrongfully convicted, indeed by using the phrase ‘-however you lived’, he is implying that Ryan may well have been guilty. The issue is does murder justify state murder, is justice no more than revenge? The trial and execution are described by Dawe as nothing more than a ‘shabby ritual.’ This reinforces my own view on capital punishment. Justice is not revenge. The poem is written in a first person point of view with the effect of the poem making it abundantly clear that we are reading a poem about Dawe’s view on capital
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