What is the style of Bruce Dawe's poem "Enter Without So Much as Knocking"?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Bruce Dawe's poem "Enter Without So Much as Knocking" can be found in his poetry collection Sometimes Gladness: Collected Poems 1954 - 1992. It was originally written in 1959, and describes the advent of television and increasingly consumeristic society in Australia. 

The first thing a reader encounters is the Latin epigraph:

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris

(Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return)

These are the words uttered by priests during the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. From this, readers get the sense that Dawes, himself a Roman Catholic, is condemning the materialism of the society he describes, and that the poem's style is in some way parodic or satiric.

The poem is written in free verse, using contemporary vocabulary, with references to many details of modern life often evoked by means of intertextuality. Thus we can say that it is a "modernist" poem.

Next, readers are offered a stream of disconnected impressions, with different voices (the narrator and the media) running into one another without clear demarcations in what critics term a "stream of consciousness." 

Because many of the phrases use everyday speech and even slang, we can term the style of the poem's language "conversational."

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