Speech, Contrasting Australian Poetry

Speech, Contrasting Australian Poetry

Hello (teacher) and students. Together “Ballad of the Drover” by Henry Lawson and Judith Wright’s “South Of My Days” provide a compelling insight into outback life around the turn of the 20th Century. Both ballads capture the innate hardship of the Australian outback within its striking beauty. Wright and Lawson are two of Australia’s most noted poets and continue to resonate with audiences by engaging their audience through strong imagery and powerful use of figurative language to create an emotive tale.

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Lawson’s “Ballad of the Drover” and Wright’s “South Of My Days” are both narrative poems that tell contrasting stories of outback workers working differently on the land. Lawson employs the 3rd person and utilizes formal language by using powerful adjectives and imagery to represent the solitary personality of the drover. The drover has time to contemplate and take in the beauty of the landscape as he “hums a song of someone”. Personification of the land “thirsty pastures” illustrates the Drover’s intimacy with the land. Wright also utilizes the 3rd person but she uses colloquial language to engage intimately with her audience.

Wright talks of multiple workers “Dan”, “Fred” and the “troopers. “Dan” is an older man with “seventy years of stories” and his “seventy years” are further enforced through the use of simile “seventy years are hived in him like old honey. ” Wright further discusses the work; “Charleville to the Hunter” and “sixty head left at McIntyre” examine the work of moving cattle. “Fred” is “driving for Cobb’s” and simile “He went like a luny …… on his big black horse” because the “troopers are just behind” highlight the importance of work.

Through their respective use of figurative language and their choice in language Lawson and Wright both convey stories of outback workers. Together in their respective poems Lawson and Wright both convey the hardship and challenges that living in the Australian Outback brings. Both poets demonstrate an ever changing conditions that the outback of Australia exhibits. Lawson demonstrates the dangers of the Australian outback with strong description and powerful imagery “ghastly lightning” and “grey-breasted river” enforce the challenges the outback brings.

Lawson uses change of tone each couplet of stanza’s to highlight the ever changing conditions and the challenges it brings. Ballad of the drover climaxes halfway with the tragic death of Harry Dale. The last stanza’s convey a melancholy attitude as “the pack horse struggles to take dumb tidings home” the soft consonants examine the void left by the drover’s death. The untimely death of the drover demonstrates the hardship outback life brings. Wright establishes the destructive nature of the Australian outback through strong imagery “cracks like a whip” and strong description “willow choked”.

The natural dangers that the outback brings, “blizzards” and “drought” forms the interpretation of a harsh outback. The use of juxtaposition “cold the black frost night” and “thrust it’s hot face” demonstrate the ever changing conditions. Through their use of visual and language techniques Lawson and Wright convey that challenges and hardship of outback life. Both poets capture the striking beauty of the countryside and wildlife (good and bad) of the Australian Outback.

Lawson illustrates the striking beauty of the Australian outback by descriptive language “blue line of ranges” and with assonance and alliteration “slopes of sodden loam” enforce the beauty of the landscape. Lawson exemplifies the trusty companionship of Australian wildlife as the drover’s company is his “hardy horse” and his “best dog”. Through strong imagery and vivid description “outcropping granite-clean, lean hungry country” and “high delicate outline of bony slopes” Wright enforces the striking beauty of the Australian outback.

Wright articulates hard-working horses “but the horse went on” and majestic “big black horse”. Conversely Wright shows the annoyance of flies “swarming like bees”. Through imagery and descriptive language both capture the striking beauty of the countryside and wildlife (good and bad) of the Australian Outback. Finally, the stories of workers, the challenges the ever changing conditions bring, and the striking beauty of the Australian outback are captured successfully by both poets. Wright and Lawson both effectively convey their visions of Australia through “South Of My Days” and “Ballad Of The Drover”.


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