Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Bruce Dawe, Sometimes Gladness (1997)

Bruce Dawe’s poetry collection Sometimes Gladness: Collected Poems 1954 to 1997 (1997) covers his principal intellectual concerns and major artistic themes.  Dawe expressed a fascination with, and affection for, ordinary people and family life, especially regarding the working class and the poor.  In this regard, his poems cover relatively minor events and common sentiments as well as major life experiences and tragedies. 

Dawe also seems to have been profoundly influenced by the emergence and rise of the New Left, which became the salient politics of the 1960s and, after that, became known as the politics of the politically correct Left.   He was also influenced by Catholicism, especially in terms of matters of spirituality and ethics.  Dawe would probably see himself as being someone who is concerned about social justice. 

Dawe’s poetry reflects the concerns of the politically correct Left in expressing pacifist sentiments in opposition to Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War and against militarism and nuclear weapons.  He was also critical of the United States government’s Cold War strategy of backing Central American and South American dictatorships, like that in El Salvador.  Dawe’s poetry also expresses a disdain for conservatism and sympathy for environmentalist concerns.  His poems express a critical attitude towards capitalism, which involves a critical disposition regarding materialism, consumerism and the competitive individualism of the ‘rat race’ that Dawe regards as eroding a sense of community and altruism.  Dawe’s anti-capitalism can be seen as reflecting both his political and religious orientations.  His poetry also expresses the anti-racist perspectives of the politically correct Left in regards the treatment of Aborigines and migrants, and his poems express favour for multi-ethnic immigration and multiculturalism. 

As an Australian poet, Dawe exhibited a profound sense of artistic nationalism that was shared by many in the arts community at the time he wrote, which is evident in his determination to depict Australian subject matter and to conspicuously use the Australian vernacular, thereby raising the status of these distinctive words and phrases to being suitable for works of poetry. 

Dawe also expressed versatility in his choice and use of poetic forms, and he seemed to pride himself in his original use of metaphors, allegories and allusions, sometimes drawing from popular culture or making Biblical references. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

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The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: Sometimes Gladness meaning, Sometimes Gladness themes, Sometimes Gladness analysis, Sometimes Gladness notes