The text I have chosen to analyse in this written review is called ‘I Was Only Nineteen’, but also goes by the names ‘Only Nineteen’ and ‘A Walk in the Light Green’. It was composed by John Schumann, the lead singer/songwriter of the folk group Redgum. This examination will focus on topics such as the poetic techniques used, how Australian identity is portrayed, the effect the text has on the reader and my opinions. I Was Only Nineteen tells the story of an Australian digger’s experiences preparing for, fighting in, and reflecting upon the Vietnam War as an old man, psychologically and physically damaged from the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Although it may seem like a long time ago – the war ended in mid 1975 – the scars it left behind will never fade.
John Schumann uses numerous poetic devices throughout his hit song. The most frequently used techniques include rhyme (as is the same for most lyrical songs), repetition, rhetorical questions and multitudes of colloquialisms. Many of the mentioned techniques – as well as others in the song – provided the reader/listener with an opportunity to think about the theme of Australian identity. The colloquialisms applied to this ballad allow the reader to associate and relate to their own lifestyles in Australia. “Drinking tinnies” ¬– an Australian vernacular term meaning ‘drinking cans of beer’ – connects with the stereotypically casual attitudes of pub attendees Down Under. Schumann’s broad Australian accent for the entirety of this piece also expresses a feeling of Australia. Schumann makes a habit of mentioning genuine Australian and Vietnamese locations. “Puckapunyal”, “Canungra”, “Shoalwater”, “Townsville”, “Nui Dat” and “Vung Tau” are some of the several places noted in this song. By citing factual towns/cities, Schumann creates yet another bond with the audience, as most members would have heard of at least one of these before. The rhetorical questions used in this have...
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