The theme in the poem “Homecoming”, by Bruce Dawe, is the feeling and belonging of home and how you can die for your country, yet receive inhumane like treatment. The theme in “Beach Burial”, by Kenneth Slessor, is the pointlessness of war. The two poems are very similar, yet very different, in meaning and tone, through their subjects, themes, techniques and structure. Both poems relate to the same post-war event; bringing the corpses of soldiers back from war.
However, in “Homecoming” the corpses are of friendly soldiers, and in “Beach burial” the corpses are of enemy soldiers. Both poems also show how pointless and inhumane war is, “tidewood” (indicating how worthless the bodies have become) and “…dogs in the frozen sunset raise muzzles in mute salute” (indicating how the soldiers are so poorly treated, even the dogs salute them in silence). The themes of these two poems relate to the effects war has on soldiers, whether they are friendly or enemy. “Whether as enemies they fought, or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together.” This quote from “Beach burial” shows how pointless war is, and how whether they fight with or against each other, they are equal. “Homecoming” broadcasts this idea through the entire poem, using a wide range of poetic techniques as a backbone. The structure of a poem adds to its meaning. The meaning and ideas of “Homecoming” and “Beach burial” are scaffolded by their structures. “Homecoming” is a free verse poem, indicating that is free and does not have a set of rules to abide by. “Beach burial” uses caesuras to make the reader pause and reflect on what war is for, and what these men are losing their lives for. “Beach burial” and “Homecoming” use many techniques to enhance their message.
“Homecoming” uses repetition in 5 consecutive lines, emphasizing on “they’re”, “them” and “those”. This shows the lack of importance given to the soldiers. The poet’s diction, “piled” also shows how these dead soldiers are being thrown on top of each other, in a wild fashion, with no sense of neatness. In the second half of the poem “Homecoming” the idea of sadness, sorrow and grief is folded in. “Howl”, “last moments”, “fading”, “frozen sunset”, “mute salute”, “tremble”, “grief” and “bitter” are all examples of the idea of sadness in the final leg of the poem. “Beach Burial” uses internal rhyme, “shallows and burrows” to produce emphasism on how unnatural the burial was. “Homecoming” and “Beach burial” are poems from different authors, different eras and different situations, but are very similar in meaning. Both poems use structure, themes, poetic techniques and subjects to provide their meaning, which are both arguably similar.