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Narrative Voice In Homecoming Essay, Research Paper


Narrative voice plays an important role in conveying the idea of journey in Homecoming by poet Bruce Dawe. In this free-verse war poem, the idea of journey extends itself to cover both the physical and emotional aspects of the subject matter of the poem. Repetition and word choice are of key importance in developing the idea of the physical journey, while techniques such as metaphorical language, historical references and the use of imagery reinforce the idea of the emotional baggage that returns along with the bodies. The purpose of this poem is to illustrate the futility and pointlessness of war.

The first technique that becomes apparent to the responder is repetition. The repetition of the word day , in the context of,

All day, day after day has connotations of the drudgery and the long duration of this physical journey, as well as alluding to the sheer volumes of corpses that are transported home.

The next five lines are begun with the word, they re which gives the poem a slow and repetitious rhythm, which is related to the constancy and monotony of this physical journey. To suit the effect the composer wishes to achieve rhythm and the speed of reading are moderated and can be linked in with the idea of the amounts of bodies to be transported.

Established at the beginning of the poem and continued throughout, is the narrative voice or persona of Homecoming. In Homecoming the bodies are depersonalised by word choice, which assists in conveying the physical journey. Words such as piled tagging and rolling which are normally applied to describe inanimate objects are used in conjunction with the descriptions of the fallen soldiers. In this way, the narrative voice is established as detached, and without emotion. As the poem progresses, so does the narrative voice. It can be said that the narrative voice embarks on a journey of its own, as by the end of the poem it has evolved to take on an almost reflective tone. Interestingly, at no point in the poem does the narrative voice evince grief.

As the poem continues, the first references are made metaphorically to emotion, specifically to grief. With sorrowful quick fingers is made in reference to the vapour trails left by the jets journeying home , but also has connotations to the grief experienced. Here, both word choice and metaphorical language combine to achieve the effect.

Telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree In this phrase Dawe has allocated the emotion to the telegrams themselves, instead of those receiving the telegrams. This clever device of both metaphorical language and personification reinforces the idea of the emotional journey, and the end of that journey. The use of the word wintering is a direct reference to death. There is a distinct absence of any images of human grief in this poem, and this is possibly more evocative than direct descriptions.

A combination of both evocative imagery and metaphorical language is employed in the phrase, and the spider grief swings in his bitter geometry which is situated at the end of the poem. The image of the spider creating his web, starting from the inside and working outwards, allows the responder to link this with the idea of the emotional journey beginning as the corpses are picked up and transported home, spreading and coming to a close as the telegrams reach each house informing the occupants of their loved one s death.

A reference is made towards the end of Homecoming to dogs in the frozen sunset raise muzzles in mute salute This is an allusion to ancient epic poetry, where a hero s dog was said to mourn their passing by moaning and howling.

An effective denouement is reached in the last line of the poem, through use of paradoxical language they re bringing them home now, too late, too early . Dawe employs this to convey the conclusion of the physical and emotional journey of the piece. Through use of the word they re Dawe is linking the beginning of the poem to the end, and this use of structure is useful as that it ties up all looses ends.

The idea of journey is conveyed in Homecoming in an effective and impacting style, through the use of specified language techniques. While the narrative voice is important for establishing the tone of the piece, other devices such as metaphorical language, paradox and word choice are of equal value in this text, to convey the all round idea of journey.

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