Australian Poetry - Suburbia - Video Reflections on Bruce Dawe - 1 - "homo suburbiensis"
homo suburbiensis - Bruce Dawe
One constant in a world of variables
-- A man alone in the evening in his patch of vegetables,
and all the things he takes down with him there
Where the easement runs along the back fence and the air
smells of tomato-vines, and the hoarse rasping tendrils
of pumpkin flourish clumsy whips and their foliage sprawls
Over the compost-box, poising rampant upon
the palings ...
He stands there, lost in a green
confusion, smelling the smoke of somebody's rubbish
Burning, hearing vaguely the clatter of a dish
in a sink that could be his, hearing a dog, a kid,
a far whisper of traffic, and offering up instead
Not much but as much as any man can offer
-- time, pain, love, hate, age, war, death, laughter, fever.
In 2006, Australian Bruce Dawe released "Sometimes Gladness", a collection of poems connecting universal, ordinary man with the poetry of the soul. "homo suburbiensis is just one of those poems.
Sometimes the world is ablaze with smiling lights
Casting shadows within
- Gemma Wiseman
In "homo suburbiensis", the narrator identifies with a sacred, natural space within the traffic of society. It is as if this is a breathing space - neither heaven nor hell; a reception room, a waiting room, a no man's land.
I created the following video based on this poem.
As you visualise the poem, think of answers to the following questions:
1. Is this a pretty picture of life in the suburbs?
2. Do you see an old or a young man in this poem?
3. Does knowing the age of the person in the garden make any difference to the interpretation of the poem?
4. The word "variables" in the first line refers to what?
5. The last line is a list of words. Is this a fitting conclusion to the poem? Does the poem have a conclusion?
6. How do you feel about this person in the garden? Do you feel sorrow, empathy, sympathy? Or do you just feel a kind of emptiness, nothingness?
7. What does the garden symbolise?
Dare to be known!
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