Beach Burial, a poem by Kenneth Slessor, was written in 1944. It portrays the burial process during the war. The poem expresses the poet’s attitudes regarding the war. It is specifically a tribute to the Australian soldiers who fought in the Battle of El Alamein, in World War II. It is focused on the soldiers whose bodies do not make it out of the battlefields. Slessor writes based on personal experience as he was in the Battle of El Alamein. The poet observes and describes the massacre caused by war. Beach Burial is about how bodies of numerous seamen have been defencelessly floating around the ocean, before rolling into the shore.
The purpose is to convey the meaningless and anonymous deaths that occurred and were not cared about. The poet wants you to feel sorrow for the thousands of men that were in the war. An omniscient third person narrator tells the story. It shows sorrow and detachment for the men who have lost their lives. Slessor describes the senseless deaths of soldiers; regardless of what side they are fighting.
The speaker describes the horrific task of burying comrades and enemies alike while the battle still rages along the beach. “But morning rolls them in the foam” is a vivid line from the first stanza. Here the speaker describes the dead bodies of men being pushed onto the shore by the swirl of the ocean, the “anti-war” theme really hitting home.
There are a number of themes that co-exist in this poem rather than just one, including the sorrow and pain felt by those who observed the beach burial.