English Poetry Analysis

1257 words - 6 pages

Tatsuya Shiihara English Poetry Year 11 Term 2 Semester 1 2014
English Poetry Analysis Commentary
Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Tatsuya Shiihara, and today I will be presenting to you my
interpretation of the poem "The Last War", written by Australian poet, Katherine Gallagher.
This poem expresses the feelings of the "winning" countries before, during and after the Second
World War and the anticipation which the end of the war built. Born in 1935, in the town of Maldon,
in Victoria; Gallagher went through the 2nd World War as a child, and as a result, experienced many
adversities that came with it, such as fear of loved ones not coming home and rationing of food. I
believe that t ...view middle of the document...

With the poem being written in first person, "we've won" and "The bomb entered our conversation",
Gallagher also uses personification in the lines "The bomb entered our conversation, a stranger who
refused to leave", to clearly convey that the bomb is unwanted, a symbol of guilt and fear, by making
it personal with the reader. Whilst this effectively reflects her personal attitudes towards the war,
remorse and acceptance, the reader also starts to question their own attitude towards the war.
However, it is the juxtaposition within the layers of the poem that most entices the reader's
attention. The sharp contrast between the cheerful and happy celebrations that the war was over, to
the suddenly sombre tone that comes with the realisation of the deaths that were the price of war -
combined with the existence of the atomic bomb which spreads fear. It effectively engineers turmoil
within the reader.
With no rhythm or rhyming scheme within the poem, the poem is a free-verse, following the rhythm
of natural speech with no consistent meter patterns. Thus, Gallagher uses precise language and
strong phrasing in order to get her point across quickly and concisely, such as the lines "Japan
bombed, gigantic clouds curling, skies burnt scarlet -total destruction . . ." and "The War over." This
short, sharp rhythm is very effective as it doesn't let the reader's mind wander from the point,
thereby successfully demanding the reader's attention at all times.

Tatsuya Shiihara English Poetry Year 11 Term 2 Semester 1 2014
Poem Annotation
The Last War
There was only one war, and it was finishing any day soon. Ears keyed to the wireless, we waited. Then the news: Japan bombed, gigantic clouds curling, skies burnt scarlet - total destruction . . . We've won, we've won, a conga-chant round the schoolground, beating tins, sticks: our teacher joining in - flags, jumbled cries - uncles and cousins coming back. The war over. Hiroshima, Nagasaki - ghost towns now. Over two hundred thousand people ghosts too. We couldn't imagine it. The bomb entered our conversation, a stranger who refused to leave. Only years on did we become aware of the pit of ash beneath our tongues.
Katherine Gallagher

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