Poetry In Poetry

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Poetry has played an important role during wartimes, whether it be to inspire and unify a nation or to memorialise and remember those who fought. Australian poets throughout history such as Banjo Paterson have responded to the events and consequences of war in order to engage their audience to consider the themes of honour and sacrifice which can be seen in his patriotic 1915 poem We’re all Australians now. In contrast, John Schumann and Eric Bogle evoke not only the theme of sacrifice but also the horror and waste of war in their poems I was only 19 and Lost Soul respectively. All three poets effectively employ poetic techniques to highlight their key themes.

To begin, some poets highlight the heroism and honour of war while others consider its cruelty. Paterson in We’re all Australians now, describes the “Australian son(s)” who “stand straighter up today”, illustrating the pride felt by many across the nation. He also emphasises the persistence and strength of those who fought, in the line “fight on, fight on, unflinchingly”, in which Paterson echoes a military-like rhythm as well the forward momentum of the brave soldiers. In contrast, Schumann evokes the horror of the Vietnam war in I was only 19 by showing the lasting effects of conflict, which are portrayed through the persona’s current mental health as well as recollections of the war. For example, the persona questions why he “still can’t get to sleep” and highlights “it was a war within yourself”. Schumann also

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