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The Not-so-good Earth

A presentation on Bruce Dawe's poem "The Not-so-good Earth"

Niamh Wood

on 13 October 2015

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Transcript of The Not-so-good Earth

The Not-so-good Earth: Analysis
Niamh Wood
For a while there we had 25-inch Chinese peasant families
famishing in comfort on the 25-inch screen
and even Uncle Billy whose eyesight's going fast
by hunching up real close to the convex glass
could just about make them out - the riot scene
in the capital city for example
he saw that better than anything, using the contrast knob
to bring them up dark - all those screaming faces
and bodies going under the hooves - he did a terrific job
on that bit, not so successful though
on the quieter parts where they’re just starving away
digging for roots in the not-so-good earth
cooking up a mess of old clay
and coming out with all those Confucian analects
to everybodies considerable satisfaction
(if I remember rightly Grandmother dies
with naturally suspenseful break in the action
for a full symphony orchestra plug for Craven A
neat as a whistle probably damn glad
to be quit of the whole gang with their marvellous patience)
We never did find out how it finished up… Dad
at this stage tripped over the main lead in the dark
hauling the whole set down smack on his inscrutable face
wiping out in a blue flash and curlicue of smoke
600 million Chinese without a trace…
The Not-so-good Earth

Based on the 1966 chinese revolution, Bruce Dawe uses a young persona's dramatic monologue to express the theme of the apathy that is shown by western cultures to others.

The persona describes a scene where their family sits around a large screen TV watching, uninterested the dramatic tales of riot and famine.
The title is used in-text as a reference to western cultures apathy towards others.

“For a while there” (a casual tone)

“He saw that better than anything” (more worried about Uncle Billy than anything else)

“the part where they’re just starving away” (narrator is becoming slightly bored of the whole thing)

“600 million Chinese without a trace…” (fogetting about the whole the tragedy as soon as the TV turns off)
Theme + Tone
Dawe uses the narrator to ridiucle modern society and show the lack of empathy that is shown toward others, and an oxymoron, "famishing in comfort".

He also uses idioms to help the reader to connect with the persona upon reading the poem (“to be quit of the whole gang”).

The Reader
When finished the reader will have gained self awareness to their own apathy through the use of the title of the poem, punctuation, spacing, the tone and the theme.
The poem is heavy with irony and satire.

Enjambment is used, therefore the poem doesnt follow normal poetic rules. (“break in the action
for a full symphony “)

Dashes - are used to introduce material to a sentence or to change the topic. (“bodies going under the hooves - he did a terrific job”)

Brackets (are used to enclose additional infomation.)
"(if I remember rightly…...)"

Ellipses ... are used to have a dramatic pause, or to show an unfinished though or some hesitation from the narrator.
(“We never did find out how it finished up… Dad”)
Full transcript