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To What Extent Has Your Study Of Australian Poetry Contributed To Your Understanding Of, Or Response To, Your Sense Of Being Australian Or Living In Australian Society

1632 words - 7 pages

There are many factors that shape my sense of being Australian and living in an Australian society. All my previous experiences- whether they be books I have read, films I have viewed, advertisements I have listened to or watched, people I have talked to, experiences I have encountered on my travels, even the National Anthem and annual Australia Day celebrations contribute in some part to my sense of myself as Australian. Factors such as my family's ethnic background, my studies of various subjects at school and the impact of mass media also have an impact on my sense of myself as Australian. The question as to what extent the study of Australian poetry has had in the complex process of my evolving personal identity at first seemed daunting. Poetry had been simply a topic studied at school, however, on looking across the range of poems I have read throughout the course I became aware that poetry, because it is a highly condensed form of text, was important in giving me an overview of how the Australian identity has been represented by poets over the course of the last 200 hundred years of our country's history and allowed me to reflect on how much of that representation is part of my own personal view. For me being Australian means having the courage to face difficulty, the ability to bounce back from adversity, to stick up for what is right and fight against what is unfair, to accept difference in others and to value family and friends. The poems I have read have all made me aware that these are my values and that they have, in part, evolved out of my own uniquely Australian background. From the earliest bush ballads of Lawson and Patterson to the contemporary poems of a more modern poet such as David Malouf Australians have been represented in a variety of ways. The early ballads such as "The Man from Snowy River" depict the Australian character as heroic, battling with "fiery" courage to survive every hardship and obstacle. Later poets celebrated this quality in the Australian soldiers of World War I, World War II and Vietnam. Bruce Dawe reflecting on the Vietnam War in his poem "Homecoming," Dawe expresses his horror at the loss of so many men, their brave acts overlooked as they return in torrents of body bags to their grieving families, with only a "mute salute". Peter Potter, in his slightly humorous poem "Phar Lap in the Melbourne Museum," shows that we Australians recognize and even celebrate heroism in a race horse. It is "Australian innocence to love the naturally excessive", says Potter. The concept of heroism first explored in ballads has subsequently evolved over time to embrace the uniquely Australian concept of the little Aussie battler. The little Aussie battler is an idea that is embraced by many Australians. The Australian identity I have grown accustomed to supports the under dog and embraces the Australian resiliency that we have developed. Australian poetry, in all its simplicity, freezes this image and...

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