Judith Beveridge

Judith Beveridge is an Australian poet well known for her skill in illuminating humanity through the means of the natural world in poems such as The Two Brothers and Fox in a Tree Stump. Beveridge uses techniques such as personification of nature to show the contradictions of how innocent yet destructive humanity can be. As a feminist poet, Beveridge commonly expresses the characters in stereotypical roles in a manner of females being innocent and kind whereas males are destructive and harsh. In the poem The Two Brothers, these stereotypical roles are displayed through young children.

In this poem, a young girl is being taunted by two young brothers, hence the name of the poem. The young girl is seen as sensitive and heroic as she tries to hide the snails and other creatures as she believes they are worthy of salvation as they are being killed by the brothers. Beveridge has used personification to express the innocence and kindness of the snails by writing “the snails never needed more than a single leaf to paint picture books for a child” lines 9-10. The snails are also expressed as magical in the metaphor “the two wands at their heads, touching” in line 10.In contrast, Beveridge demonstrates the brutality of the brothers after the bothers purposely kill the snails by placing salt on them in stanza 5. Similes are used such as “the snails boil and froth like illicit stills” in line 19. By the effect of enlightening the young girl and the creatures, the brothers are highly more portrayed as destructive and harmful and so the death of the creatures seem to be more cruel.

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Thus Judith Beveridge uses this poem to express light and darkness of humanity by using stereotypical gender roles.Another poem Judith Beveridge has written to illuminate humanity is Fox in a Tree Stump. This poem is quite similar to The Two Brothers as it also has a stereotypical gender role for the characters and combines childhood innocence, human cruelty and the natural world. The young girl in this poem is faced with a hard decision of whether facing her uncle’s anger or going against her own morals.

The first stanza starts off with the young girl gripping a branch in stress, as she was left by her uncle to forcibly kill a fox.Beveridge uses metaphors to express the girls churning with fear such as “terror barrel-rode through my stomach” in line 6. Beveridge makes a connection between the uncles physical being which is described as a reflection of the harsh country land and his personality as short tempered and non affectionate. Beveridge uses alliteration to describe the uncles voice as “kelpie cursing” in line 9. His thoughtless actions are portrayed as cruel as he“threw the charred body into a ditch” in lines 22-23.The emphasises of how innocent the girl is as we find out in line 27 that we was only nine years of age. Her fear was unrelenting throughout the poem as her desperate wanting to get out of the situation is shown in “I was a child praying for the dark” in line 29.

In conclusion, Judith Beveridge’s poems The Two Brothers and Fox in a Tree Stump, the audience is exposed to Beveridge’s technique of connecting humanity’s innocence and destructiveness with the natural world as a means of illuminating humanity.



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