A composer’s perspective of an event can be explored by the nature of representation, construction, layout, language and modality of their text. The composer responds in terms of the context and the situation surrounding them. The two poems, “Homecoming” by Bruce Dawe and “To Whom It May Concern” by Adrian Mitchell, show very similar perspectives but have slight alterations. Bruce Dawe and Adrian Mitchell both write in two similar writing styles in which the readers can realize through diverse audience in who they address and the variety of language devices they use. These variations appear because the writers of these two poems have a different perspective of the issue and purpose.
In “Homecoming,” Bruce Dawe explores personal and public issues of the lack of identity due to inattentive slaughter of young men who served in the Vietnam War. Bruce Dawe uses vivid visual language and aural poetic techniques to help construct his attitudes towards war. He describes the war as a gloomy environment and uses pathos to develop a sense of misery towards the reader. As the soldiers’ bodies are returned from war, Dawe shows the lack of identity and treatment of the corpses, as they were zipped “up in green plastic bags.” This reveals the sorrowful return of the soldiers as the colour “green,” symbolises depression. The title “Homecoming,” effectively juxtaposes with the universal implications of the word with the shocking reality of dead soldiers who were forcefully flown, home to Vietnam. The title “Homecoming,” was satirical as it indicated the fact that the soldiers were not returning to a celebration and were instead, “piled on the hulls of Grants.” Repetition of “home, home, and home” emphasizes the emotional bonds of the soldiers, a technique suggesting the tedious experiences involved in warfare. To put it simply, Bruce Dawe’s perspective of the Vietnam War was distressing, regretful and inhumane.
Whereas the poem, “To Whom It May Concern”, written by Adrian Mitchell was designed to protest against the war, the government’s lies, contempt of the people who fought in the Vietnam War and the cowardice of the general public. The rhetorical question “where were you at the time of the crime?” Adrian Mitchell uses the rhetorical question to describe the war as a crime. This clearly demonstrates that he vehemently disagrees with war. He also uses figurative language to describe the issues related to the trauma and futility of war. For example, the alarm clock is personified as it is “screaming with pain.” The use of personification of the alarm clock screaming implies the atrocious sounds of war. “Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.” This line refers to the fact that soldiers have witnessed horrible sightings of which they can never forget. The “flames” of horrendous images are burnt in their eyes and will never disappear. Finally he criticizes the cowardice of the general public. As the persona repeatedly urges the government to “tell me lies about Vietnam”; but does so ironically. The oxymoron of “tell me”, suggests disclosure with “lies” which encode deception, satirically commenting on the public’s willingness to be deceived. In brief, Adrian Mitchell refers his experiences of the war to be traumatising, horrific and there were many “lies” about the war.
The writers of the poems want to create a different effect on the audience which also alters their use of language. Bruce Dawe’s purpose of writing “Homecoming” was to inform the audience about the depressing return of soldiers and inhumane side of the Vietnam War. Bruce Dawe uses language that is…