This is demonstrated through the juxtaposition of the differing perceptions of moving based on how they belonged in the place they were living – the oldest girl is on the verge of tears and the youngest girl is ‘beaming’. This is also shown in the mother’s acceptance of her ‘drifter’ lifestyle through the image of the ‘bottling-set / she never unpacked from Grovedale’.
This is a carefree natural poem about an Australian phenomenon of transient or nomadic workers. Not quite as reviled as the gypsies of Europe, transient workers originated as shearers, rouseabouts or sundowners in early colonial times. Not willing to settle down in predictable settings, the transient workers preferred the adventure of new surroundings and meeting new people. Its attractions today extend to global citizens who regularly migrate to new continents.
1Dawe preferred lower case letters for his titles but was overruled by Publishers.
I. SOUND EFFECTS
Soft, smooth consonants and gentle vowels.
II. SUBJECT MATTER
This poem depicts the inevitability of restlessness in the life of a transient, gipsy like, rouseabout family. The poem illustrates the fatalistic impermanence of the family’s existence.
III. THEMES Subtle suggestions
Brevity of happiness; the transience of life, nothing gold can stay
Uncertainty in life of the drifter; “One day soon..”
aimlessness, shiftless, feckless. Unpacked bottling set.
Unfulfilled dreams; “Make a wish, Tom, make a wish.”
Maturity and parental responsibility vs. Childhood’s infectious excitement “for no reason” puppy also dashes about.
Younger daughter “beaming” anticipating new possibilities; Older daughter “is close to tears” maturely craving stability?
Wife acquiescent, defeatist and subservient to husband’s whims or realistically accepting of Tom’s valid sixth sense of what is best? “she won’t even ask why they’re leaving this time..”
The family is unable to...