Kenneth Slessor Poems

Kenneth Slessor was an Australian poet and war correspondent. His collections of poetry include Thief of the Moon, Cuckooz Contrey, and Funny Farmyard: Nursery Rhymes and Painting Book. Today, the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry is given in his honor. 

Beach Burial

by Kenneth Slessor

‘Beach Burial’ by Kenneth Slessor is a deeply emotional poem about the cost of war. It uses hard-to-forget images of bodies washing up on a beach to highlight this fact.

This is one of Kenneth Slessor's best poems. It explores dark subject matter in an incredibly unique way, so much so that readers are unlikely to forget its message anytime soon after finishing the stanzas. The poem demonstrates Slessor's skill with language and allusion. Through its imagery, symbolism, and reflections on sacrifice, 'Beach Burial' presents a contemplation of death.

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs

The convoys of dead sailors come;

At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,

But morning rolls them in the foam.

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