In an Essay Explain What Insights Are Offered Through an Examination of the Concept of ‘Identity’. Your Response Should Include a Detailed Analysis of Three Core Poems and at Least One Related Text.
Identity is about perception, the way someone sees themselves and their surroundings, the set of rules that they follow, their morals, the decisions they make, the way they look and the way they think. This is shaped by their location and experiences, as well as by other humans.
Identity is represented in many ways through poetry, music, books, paintings and other mediums.
Bruce Dawe represents the identity of two very different types of people in his poems “Homo Suburbiensis” and “Drifters” where he represents the identity of his subjects through more of a specific description of a certain set of people and not any person in particular in an informative tone , while Dorothea Mackellar focuses more on her own identity in her poem, “My country”, aiming for a passionate tone. Unlike these poems, the song “This is Australia” by GANGgajang the identity of a country as well as its changes through time, rather than the static identity of a certain person or set of people.
All these poems give us insight into the lives of the people they portray and no matter how little or insignificant this information might be, allows us to paint a picture of the person in our heads. Dorothea Mackellar’s “My Country” comes from the point of view of a British settler. In her poem, she focuses specifically on her love of natural beauty.
“Strong love of grey-blue distance” speaks for the size and space of the country contrasting smaller, densely populated countries. She references “brown streams and soft dim skies” but she does not say they are a part of Australia.
This, together with the line “My love is otherwise”, suggests to us that she is comparing Australia to her country of origin, England. From this information we can gather Dorothea’s country of origin as well as where she feels at home and also that she is a patriotic person. We can also gather that she appreciates natural beauty very greatly and is a tidy person who spends time outdoors, possibly caring for her garden, as we can gather from the third line of the poem; “Of ordered woods and gardens”.
In the second stanza of the poem, she pays particular attention to the extremes of Australia, such as “droughts and flooding rains” and “her beauty and her terror”, which is to show us that she indeed loves every aspect of the country, painting a very clear picture of exactly what she is loves and since she has throughoutly described every aspect of Australia by pointing out the extremes and leaving her love of the in-betweens to be implied, it is easy for us to see the picture as we live in it already.
Bruce Dawe’s poem “Drifters” is less of an emotional depiction of a person, rather a far more factual description. It shows to us the moving routine of a family who move house often, the emotional atmosphere and the rough timeframe in between the moves of the family. The first thing outlined in the poem is the routine. What appears to be a neutral observer tells us that “he” tells “her” that it’s time to start packing and the kids get excited, and the dog begins to run about. She” then goes to pick the green tomatoes from the tree, puts the unpacked bottling set on the trailer and then they leave “the blackberry canes with their last shrivelled fruit” behind, all of this being a measure of time, as the tomatoes haven’t ripened yet, the bottling set is still packed as they don’t unpack things unless they need to use them in order to move more efficiently and lastly the shrivelled berries serve as an accurate measure of time, as they arrived just as the berries were ripe for eating and are leaving as the berries are beginning to disappear.
The contrast between the young girl’s beaming and the older girl’s crying also shows us that moving around often has upsides and downsides, which also adds to the informative tone of the poem.
Similarly, Dawe’s poem “Homo Suburbiensis” is aimed to present a suburban man as a species of human, rather than an individual. This is done through the latinised title, sounding like a scientific name for an animal, rather than a human being. The informative tone is also present in this poem as it is in the previous poem.
As we look through a proverbial magnifying glass into the life of the man, the poem examines even the smallest of details during those few seconds the man spends in his garden as we observe him. We learn that he is in a vegetable patch and the line “all the things he takes down with him there” suggests more than garden tools, but also his thoughts, specifically his problems and worries, which may be depicted as a weight one may be carrying.
This suggests to us that his vegetable patch is a sanctuary, his own personal private place of relaxation here he can sink into his own mind and think things over. The second stanza uses sensory imagery to let the reader put himself in the place of the man in the garden, no longer simply observing him, which helps the reader develop a more accurate picture of exactly the state of mind the man may be in during his time in his garden. “The clatter of a dish in a sink that could be his” suggests that he is married, which could imply children, making his garden all the more an escape, rather than a chore.
Finally, the song “This is Australia” depicts the changing identity of the Autralia, from the dry, empty outback to what it is in 1985, the year of the song’s release. A major part of this is embracing Aboriginal culture, which was something that would have been impossible in Australia 30 years or so prior. It also shows the multiculturalism that was beinging to become evident in Australia, with the various flags of european countries flashing across the screen.
All these things that would have been still very new to Australia are combined with the images of stereotypical Australian objects, landmarks, icons and animals such as luna park, kangaroos, beaches, surfing, the hills hoist in the backyard, sydney harbor bridge, the Center Point Tower and many others in no particular order, mixing the new with the old, further depicting the differences and changes between modern Australia and how it had been before.
From all these texts, we can gather details about their subject(s) that can tell us anything from a person’s attitude towards certain things to a description of someone’s entire life. Through identity alone we can discover almost anything about a person and classify them in a specific group if necessary all without ever knowing the people themselves at all.