Weapons Training Bruce Dawe ‘Weapons Training’ was written by Bruce Dawe. Who became one of Australia’s most well known poets in the 1960’s. In 1959 he joined the RAAF, Royal Australian Air Force, and left to become a teacher in 1968. As his occupation in the RAAF, Bruce served as an air force officer, a person of high rankings. And from his years fighting in the Vietnam War, and serving our country, Dawe – along with many others, wrote a substantial amount of protest, or anti-war poems. Many of which became extremely well known.
My personal interpretation of this poem is an instructor, or person of high authority, teaching new recruits about their weapons, and the true experience of war. This is done to ensure that the new soldiers are prepared and completely understand what is to be expected of the coming months. The poem is about an experience, rather than a person. This was most likely a personal experience of Dawe’s, as many people in his position wrote poetry about everyday experiences throughout the war. Bruce Dawe is an Australian that hated war; thus this poem represents the viciousness and brutality of war.
Therefore, since he hated war, he only represents the brutality of war; he makes use of a silence and simply doesn’t bring up the issue of the reasons for war. He simply thinks of was as an unnecessary for the war to take place, no ifs, buts or maybes. The reason behind soldiers writing poetry while at war, besides them removing their bottled up emotions in a healthy manner, was to bring truth to the public. The views that an average person, living in a standard society has on war, differ extremely to one that has fought the hardships of war themselves.
The way in which people think of war is that it’s a heroic journey taken by strong people that want to defend their country, and will return home equally as strong. Now, to a certain extent this statement is true. However, these strong people do not always realise how horrifying the occurrence of war may be before leaving. Once it is realised, many soldiers brake down, and when they return it seems impossible for them to live life to the fullest, as they have seen many that no longer have the capabilities of doing so anymore. The main theme of ‘Weapons Training’ is simply, war.
This is obvious as it is what the poem is based upon. It is a truthful poem written to ensure all know that war isn’t everything it seems to be. War is an extremely traumatic experience for those involved, and their families and surrounding friends need to realise this – and many do, through the poetry written during these times of heartache. One of the ideas portrayed in this poem is that of the male sexuality. During the years of war, the male soldiers would usually be in close proximity to one another. This then brings up the argument of homosexuality.
As is brought up in the text, ‘you there what’s the matter, why are you looking at me, are you queer? ’ This poem is a cynical and harsh protest poem. The poet sounds aggressive and demanding, this is shown through the language used throughout the poem. ‘Open that drain you call a mind and listen. ’ Similar language is present throughout the entire text; the poet does not change the way in which the poem was written, as therefore the mood does not change. It is easy to imagine the sergeant speaking forcefully, telling the soldiers that they won’t return the same.
His tone is disciplined, yet harsh towards his students. The poem is created to be said in a negative tone, because the subject portrayed it that of a negative incidence. The poet isn’t holding anything back; he says exactly what he thinks, without the concern of how, neither the soldiers nor the reader will react. The reader’s response to the poem, filled with harsh sayings and aggressive language, is a realisation of the reality and brutality of war, thus, making the reader feel sympathy towards those that have spent part of their lives fighting for our country in the war.
Their realisation of this has made a difference, and the poet is successful in bringing truth and emotion to the public. Dawe uses gaps in his text. He expects the readers to know to some extent the horrors of war and conflict. Although he provides graphic imagery, he expects the responders to be able to relate them to their own personal experiences, therefore enhancing the quality of this poem by creating a link between the readers and death due to war and conflict. Most importantly, he uses language to attract attention to his views on war and its horrors. He represents this conflict in the form of vivid imagery which adds to the motional aspect of the text; thus creating interest through tension and the readers’ past experience. Beginning with ‘and’ shows that the sergeant has been talking when the reader enters the picture, and his language is a continuous stream. Therefore, giving the impression to the reader as if they are inside a soldier and he had not been listening and only rejoined the conversation. The speech never does come to a full stop; there are rhetorical questions to raise the involvement of the reader “only to find back home because of your position; your chances of turning the key in the ignition; considerably reduced?
Alright now suppose… ” In this example, Bruce Dawe uses a rhetorical question to create an atmosphere that is strict and disciplined. The type of language used, is definitely a technique that attracts the audience. Different forms of poetry are used in the text. On the second line of the poem, an onomatopoeia is used ‘and when I say eyes right I want to hear those eyeballs click and the gentle pitter patter of falling dandruff’. Onomatopoeia is the formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to. Pitter patter’ is an example of this. This poem includes a hyperbole, which is defined as a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect. The poem builds up to the end saying ‘you know what you are? You’re dead dead dead’ this is an exaggeration to emphasise the conflict of war. Bruce Dawe is saying that all that war turns out to be is men having to kill others, as a resolution – when nothing should come to this. My personal response in reading this protest poem is that war is an event that no person should ever be subject to.
I’ve learnt through reading this poem and doing research on war that it affects the soldier in many ways. The biggest negative affect seen in military members is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. ) It’s said to have been caused by a traumatic experience (fellow soldier dies, shot a civilian by mistake) in which the human mind doesn’t know how to recover from. The effects mimic depression: feeling separated from others, thoughts of suicide, and some are different, such as increased sensitivity to loud noises.
This poem had a rather large impact on me; it brought reality to my previous thoughts of war. Thus, making me consider not only the soldiers themselves and the way they have had to live their lives and the tragedies they have faced, but their families as well. These families of the soldiers have had to spend each and every day wondering whether their child, father, mother or siblings were alive or lay dead on the floor in an unknown area. All aspects of this poem work together in order to create a desired impact on the reader, the language and use of structure has helped in to develop the mood intended.