Australian Identity: 'I Was Only Nineteen' Analysis Essay

1509 WordsJun 4, 20137 Pages
The text I have chosen to analyse in this written review is called ‘I Was Only Nineteen’, but also goes by the names ‘Only Nineteen’ and ‘A Walk in the Light Green’. It was composed by John Schumann, the lead singer/songwriter of the folk group Redgum. This examination will focus on topics such as the poetic techniques used, how Australian identity is portrayed, the effect the text has on the reader and my opinions. I Was Only Nineteen tells the story of an Australian digger’s experiences preparing for, fighting in, and reflecting upon the Vietnam War as an old man, psychologically and physically damaged from the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Although it may seem like a long time ago – the war ended in mid 1975 – the scars…show more content…
By bringing up well known Australian icons and brands, the author involves himself with the audience. Although subtle, Australians can also relate to the line “Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon”. This particular sentence describes the historical event in which humankind first set foot on the moon: “kicked the moon”. This is an allusion that many Aussies – especially those who watched the 1969 moonwalk on their TVs – would understand and could pertain to. Through the use of poetic devices, the author has successfully encouraged the audience to explore their thoughts on Australian identity and to reflect on our nation’s history. Second paragraph: The language and tone of ‘I Was Only Nineteen’ is solemn and reflective of the past. John Schumann has used various types of vocabulary to show this. Schumann’s wording of this text is well planned and thoroughly thought out. Sentences in this piece frequently begin with ‘And’, implying that the author is not yet done telling his story. In a way it symbolises that the pain of the war never ended, it is still continuing on. The chorus line “God help me, I was only nineteen” is a fundamental part of this song. It expresses the innocence and childhood that was lost by thousands of involuntary Australian soldiers during the war. This exact line is repeated four times throughout the song. On one occasion it is slightly
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