Sheer Voice and Fidget Wheels: A Study of 'Five Bells'


A close reading of Slessor's poem grounded in consideration of the poetic 'I'. 'Except at certain deliberate points 'Five Bells' tends to make the speaking self transparent, tends to make the present self of the prologue a window through which the reader sees the Harbour and Joe. The poem, in its form, is quite unlike the window through which the speaker tries to perceive Joe, the "speechless panes" through which the speaker envisages Joe attempting "agonies of speech", the glass which must be broken.'

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Published 1 May 1988 in Volume 13 No. 3. Subjects: Coast, Death, Drowning, Imagery, Poetic techniques, Suicide, Sydney Harbour, Urban, Writer's craft, Kenneth Slessor.

Cite as: Haskell, Dennis. ‘Sheer Voice and Fidget Wheels: A Study of 'Five Bells'.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, 1988, doi: 10.20314/als.b182a0f978.