Phoenix Senior English Textual Study: Kenneth Slessor

  • Barbara Stanners
  • Phoenix Education
  • 10/7/1905
  • ISBN: 9781925169126

RRP: $27.95 (Inc. GST)


Storytelling lies at the heart of textual representation and typically explores the universality of personal or societal human experience. Driven by conflict, stories often chart a collective or individual struggle set within timeless themes such as adversity, injustice or oppression. Audiences become engaged with how people deal with such problems or situations and how their actions, thoughts and feelings have been conveyed. Composers often adopt universal themes to highlight the moral divide between oppressors and the oppressed or the corrupt and the innocent but this can be offset by inspirational depictions of growth and insight. Knowledge and understanding about humanity and existence itself, is fostered by examining the stories of others. The experiential struggle is not always victorious, but composers have often prompted their audience to recognise and applaud the qualities of resilience, fortitude and integrity that have been revealed. Kenneth Slessor’s poetry career spanned 1917–1944 and the poems examined in this text highlight changes in the poet’s focus and poetic style. He was also a renowned journalist and editor of poetry anthologies. His modernist style shows a skilful use of form, language and ‘voice’ and he has been widely praised for his ‘craftsmanship’. His poems also explore reflect thematic concerns that deal with the universality of human existence and experience. His early poems celebrate the exuberance of youth and the pulse of life while his later poems tend to become darker in tone and focus. The plight of modern man is poetically represented through the dichotomy of light and darkness, youthfulness and age and an awareness of life’s transience and the certainty of death. He summed up is view of poetry in 1948; ‘I think poetry is written mostly for pleasure, by which I mean the pleasure of pain, horror, anguish and awe as well as the pleasure of beauty, music, and the act of living.’

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