‘Poetry teaches us about life and the world around us. ’ The two poems “Martin and the Hand Grenade” by John Foulcher and “Beach Burial” by Kenneth Slessor both discuss different aspects of war and war times teaching us about life and the world around us. “Martin and the hand grenade” explores the notion that man has a violet streak which can lead to destruction, Foulcher depicts many aspects of war such as the mental impacts as well as some physical impacts and aspects of the grenade. Emphasising the difference in how adults and children interpret warfare. Beach Burial” is a recording of the poet’s grief for the sailors who died on a great land and sea battle in the North African campaign during WWII. On another level, it records the battle that we all fight, regardless of race or political or religious conviction, joined in the common front of humanity against death. The poem “Martin and the Hand Grenade “is based on a personal experience that Foulcher had while teaching at a boys school in one of his history lessons, portraying the idea that adults and children have a different view of war and violence.
Foulcher creates a vivid image of the incident in our minds and allows us to picture ourselves observing the hand grenade through the metaphor “With his father's bleak skill, Martin edges out the firing pin”. Martin’s father is specifically referred to as having “bleak skill” that had once taught him how to operate the grenade. Foulcher used this adjective as an effective way of conveying his own attitude to war and violence, describing his own knowledge as “bleak” proving his negative attitude to the violence and destruction the Grenade causes.
As Martin displays the grenade, the class “pause for history” symbolically showing how children’s understanding and interest in the war and many other aspects of the world around us can be enhanced through physically seeing or holding an artefact in their hands. The students ask questions, Martin metaphorically states, “No-it had limited, power: ten yards, then the spread, became too loose to catch a man's mortality”, illustrating the capability of grenades and the violent fatalities caused by wars.
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Likewise "Beach Burial" by Kenneth Slessor, depict aspects of war but this time of the more graphical and visual realities. A horrify image is created through personification “The convoys of dead sailors come; At night they sway and wander in the waters far under” enabling the reader to emphasis with the soldiers that died at war. As poetry allows us to develop greater insights and learn about the world around us, “Beach Burial” effectively portrays the real and actual happenings of war or the aftermath of war. To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows, Someone, has time for this it seems", metaphorically represents how a person, out of a mark of respect is burying the dead bodies. Emotively language further allows the reader to learn about the world and empathise with those who experienced the war, “And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood, Bears the last signature of men”. "Martin and the Hand Grenade" focuses more on the grenade and ‘painting a picture’ of the grenade and the class, allowing the reader to interpret the poem and visualise aspects related to the war and the world in general.
Whereas "Beach Burial" focuses on not only the happenings of war, but on embedding a very strong image of war in the readers mind, allowing them to understand and feel the sadness intended by the poem. As both poems have a different way of conveying war, they still teach the reader about life and help them understand the world they are living in. "Beach Burial" depicts many visual aspects of the war, unlike “Martin and the Hand Grenade” which focuses on how Australian life has been influenced greatly; mentally, emotionally and physically by several aspects of the war.
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