Give a brief summary of the poem "White Stucco Dream" by Samuel Wagan Watson and identify a language device.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"White Stucco Dreaming" reads a little dubiously: it is hard to tell whether the poetic speaker is a vandal from outside or a prankster from within the community of the "white stucco cocoon." Fortunately, poet Samuel Wagan Watson clears up the dubiousness with some brief remarks to ABC TV Art Online with James Griffin. He states that the poem exactly replicates his experience growing up in a "childhood urban indigenous atmosphere of 1970s":

It exactly captures my childhood urban indigenous atmosphere of 1970s ... where I was raised - and the safety bubble of childhood fantasy. It was the time of Gilligan’s Island and Magilla Gorilla and cartoons and tree houses ... set amidst the Bjelke Pettersen Queensland. (Samuel Wagan Watson)

To briefly summarize, the poem takes us on an excursion with friendly neighborhood vandals who vandalize their "white stucco umbilical / of a working class tribe." It is hard to identify the interiority and harmless pranking nature of the excursion because, in an inverted language device of allusion, Watson uses language usually affixed to malicious vandals: "black panel-van"; "twenty blackfellas hanging out the back"; "became mutant ... overnight"; "attacked with a cane knife." Nonetheless, the final stanza does inform us of the "us," not "other," nature of the narrator and the narrator's experience:

the police cars that crawled up and down the back streets,
peering into our white stucco cocoon
wishing they were with us

The "black panel-van / called the 'black banana'" with "twenty blackfellas hanging out the back" painted innocently by-standing yard ornaments of "old black tyres"; sprayed snake's "cool venom" on the stucco from "snakes that morphed into nylon hoses," thus drenching the stucco; listened to the tune of the ice-cream truck that echoed in the "little black minds" of the now grown up "twenty blackfellas."

Australia's indigenous art is alluded to when the blackfellas leave "chocolate hand prints" on the white stucco. Their escapades are interrupted for a moment by a memory of mud cakes on Dad's camp stove "that just made Dad see black". The excursion ends with a vision of police cars prowling the neighborhoods on the back streets--the climax of the saga of adventure comes with a surprise when Watson describes the police cars as crawling down the back streets and envying the "twenty blackfellas": "wishing they were with us."

thejustbiebz | Student

Im not too sure but miss said that the last 3 lines of the poem is irony bacause in the whole poem he thinks that his childhood was happy but then the last 3 lines, he realised that he was trapped like a cocoon by police cars around the street.

oxymoron: happy dark

written in free verse