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?

homo suburbiensis

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Comments 1 comment

Lindsay 6 years ago

Thanks a lot for your insight onto this poem, Im currently studying this poem for my year 11 assesment task and this has helped me greatly!

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