Beach Burial Essay

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Beach Burial

Beach Burial says only that men die and are buried. Is this a fair evaluation of the poem?

Beach Burial is a poem which deals with many issues, not only about men dying and being buried. This is by no means a fair evaluation of the poem. The poem in actual fact deals with the problems in war, and it encases a hidden meaning, which is equality.

This poem dwells heavily on the problems in war. It describes how high the death toll is for both sides. Slessor uses “convoys of dead sailors” to show that all these dead body’s are very much alike, with their movements and feelings being the same. It also outlines a major problem in war, being able to identify and bury they dead properly.

"And each cross, the driven
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“Unknown seaman” is written upon the stakes. This is to show that the families of the sailors will never know where their sons were buried. The sailors that have died for their county are not given the honourable and noble burial that they deserved. Instead, they are buried on foreign ground, with a piece of “tide-wood” for a tombstone that doesn’t even mention their name.

In the lines "the ghostly pencil wavers and fades, the purple drips, the breath of the wet season has washed their inscription" we learn that even the knowledge that the dead seamen served their country will also be lost. The ink has already started to waver and because the tombstone is only a piece of “tide-wood”, it can be assumed that the tombstones will also be swept away.

“Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall, Whether as enemies they fought,

Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together, Enlisted on the other front.” Here the responder is informed that the dead sailors that have been described in the poem are in fact from both sides. The bodies were floating alongside enemies and allies, yet from the beginning of the poem they were made equal in death. This can be seen when Slessor describes their movements and feelings to be the same. The use of the word convoy further emphasises equality, as a convoy is a group related in a common way travelling together. This shows that the “convoy of dead soldiers” are all

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