“A text is worthy of acclaim if it presents valuable ideas in an engaging way”. Discuss with reference to your Module B text.
Kenneth Slessor’s poetry is worthy of acclaim as it focuses on universal themes. In his suite of poetry, poems are linked by common imagery used to convey his thematic concerns. This gives his poems a rich intertextuality with each other, providing a body of work with textual integrity. Slessor’s primary concerns of time and memory are thoroughly explored in his work. These are presented in an engaging way due to his poetic treatment, manipulating imagery and structure in his poems. Slessor’s poems Out of Time, Five Bells and Elegy in a Botanic Gardens all explore his thematic concerns of time, memory and the power of nature.
Slessor addresses the constant progression of time in his suite of poetry. Out of Time’s structure reflects this nature of time. The poem is composed of three sonnets, which form a corona as each last line relates to the first line. This reflects the cyclical and constant nature of time. This is contrasted with the human perception of time, with the pace quickened in the second stanza through alliteration like “kiss and kill”. Time is viewed as having duality, being described calmly as a wave and aggressively as a knife. Time is a natural part of human experience, but our human nature makes us dread the passage of time. In Out of Time, time is metaphorically described as “the wave, enfolds me in its bed.” This water imagery is also employed for Five Bells, “the turn of midnight water’s over you.” In Out of Time, time is also personified as “the bony knife, it runs me through.” The repetition of the suffixes in “Vilely, continuously, stupidly, Time takes me, drills me” aurally mirrors the embodiment of time as a knife. This ties into one interpretation of the title as constantly running out of time. Five Bells supports this portrayal, as time is “knifing the dark with deathly photographs.” It also mocks human effort to monitor time, referring to the bells as “the bumpkin calculus of time.” This juxtaposition of an uncivilised person with a complex mathematical method, comments that our human capacity to chronicle time is hopelessly limited. This displays a rich intertextuality, as time is personified with this dual imagery throughout his poems. Paul Grover states Slessor’s poetry to, “show how an individual can transcend time and participate more fully in a world out of time.” Both Out of Time and Five Bells explore this idea engagingly, mirroring the inexorable passage of time but exploring how an individual can temporarily transcend time.
Memory is explored as a way to escape from the passage of time in his poetry. In Out of Time, when the persona is experiencing a memory, “time leaves the lovely moment at his back”. The persona is seen to be able to brace himself against the pull of time, “leaning against his golden undertow”. The water imagery used to describe time is applied to memory,...