In reference to Mary Gilmore’s, The Measure, what is the meaning and force of the repeated phrase “And see(s), not friend and foe, but man and man”?

The waste of life and emptiness that war leaves is the foundational theme of Gilmore’s poem, The Measure. Underlying this theme, is the pointlessness of war that is highlighted through the line “And see, not friend and foe, but man and man.” The repetition of this phrase highlights its importance and forces the reader to think about their own humanity in relation to the humanity of others.

The perspective of the sun and stars is representative of a higher power or an indication that there is more to the world than our struggles and in this case, war. The sun and stars are seen as sublime and look down upon all of the earth, wherever you are in the world. In a similar way that every person looks up and sees the same sun and the same stars, the sun and stars look down and have the same perspective but reversed- “man and man”. This highlights the fact that each person is the same, skin, bones and organs when it comes down to it. Whether a man killed through war is on your side or against, when they are shot, they bleed and another life is left vacant on the earth.

Rather than focussing on the “glory” that the dead bring to their country, family and themselves, Gilmore focusses on what is left behind; the emptiness, broken families and sorrow. With this intertwined with the reminder that friend and foe are both the same man, the true meaning of war is highlighted. That meaning is in fact, nothing.

The poem greatly reminded me of the Christmas Truce of 1914 in which British and German soldiers on the Western Front stopped fighting on Christmas, even leaving their trenches and sharing food, souvenirs and stories. Despite a language barrier, they sang together, ate together and played sports. In this moment, they too were not “friend and foe, but man and man.” This event really encaptures the feelings that Gilmore portrays and is a real world example of her statement which reinforces the meaning and force behind her words.

the christmas truce

An artist impression of the Christmas Truce (



Third Peer Review

Hey Daniel!
I enjoyed your post about Harpur and Kendall, especially the way you highlighted the difference in values through contrast and comparison. I do however, disagree with your statement that the poets “share similar writing styles.” I think that Harpur relies much more heavily on structure and texture of his poem to convey his experiences by changing the length of the stanzas and using enjambement during the disruptive part of the poem to have a hurried effect on the reader. In contrast to that, Kendall’s poetry has a consistent flow to it which conveys a sense of wander and awe which is then enhanced through the imagery used.
Good work on the blog 🙂
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Serenity and Commotion

Looking at these two poems describing a natural scene (“A Mid-Summer Noon…” & “Bell-Birds”, say what you think each poet values and how they differ in their appreciation and their expression.

The value of serenity and the value of commotion is explored through A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest and Bell-Birds respectively. While Harpur enjoys the peaceful aspects of the Australian landscape among the business, Kendall finds joy in the sounds of the bush, specifically the birds, due to the connection between them and his childhood.

Harpur uses contrast between stanzas to highlight the beauty he finds in silence and


This photograph captures the beauty that can be found through the stillness of a landscape. (

peacefulness. The comparison between the hornet “droning” and almost out of place and the landscape in which “quiet, vast and slumbrous, reigns”, demonstrates the appreciation of serenity that Harpur has in the Australian forest. The layout of the poem in which the first and last stanza are the shortest, the second and third are medium length and the middle is the longest shows the extent of movement or peace within the poetry. Stanza one and five discuss the pure peace that Harpur values and the way it makes him feel as he reflects, “musing thus of quietness.” The small amounts of movement in stanzas two and four are a build up and decline from the short burst of noise and intensity shown in stanza three by the hornet. The fact that it is the longest stanza and uses enjambment, which forces the reader to speed up, demonstrates the disruptive nature of the hornet to the peace that Harpur finds so comforting. Through expressing the various aspects of nature through the shape of the poem, Harpur is able to show the value in silence and serenity.


In contrast to this, Kendall’s Bell-Birds shows the value found in the opposite- the noises of the landscape and the joy found through that. Through the lines of the first stanza, “sweeter than singing,/ The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing” introduces the positive feelings he has about the sounds of the Australian landscape by comparing them to music, even going to the extent of saying that they are more beautiful, possibly due to the fact that they are natural. Through the personification of different months and seasons throughout the poem, Kendall associates the noises with life and gaiety as well as a sense of respect due to the link nature as a living force. In the final stanza, Kendall reflects upon the emotions the sounds of the landscape give him stating that “Often I sit, looking back to a childhood/ Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood.” Through the fond memories he associates with the noises, Kendall is able to fully appreciate the beauty found in the commotion of the wildlife especially in comparison to the “city and alleys” in the world he now lives in.

To understand the sounds of the bell-birds, follow the link and listen; maybe you will find a love for the sounds of the Australian landscape similar to Kendall!

While the appreciation and expressions of the Australian landscape are vastly different in Harpur and Kendall’s poems, I personally find the true value of the landscape when looking at both poems together. The complete beauty of the landscape is found within the mixture of serenity and commotion, silence and sounds. The fact that the landscapes of Australia can have both of these things almost simultaneously is where the true beauty lies.

Second Peer Review

Hey Josh!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having a read of your blog and find your discussion of the painting very insightful. I agree with your point about the contrast between the untouched left side of the painting and the mine on the right side and would go on to say that there are many more contrasting elements of the image in relation to this. I think that the fact that the right side is much lower down really demonstrates what is missing-what has been taken away. The natural beauty shown on the left through bright colours compared to the dull, dustiness of the right side shows the meaning that is lost through the aims of settlers to create “meaning” through what they can take from the land. I really enjoyed your perspective of the painting and the way you compared two paintings to encompass multiple aspects of the issue. Keep it up!

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Antipodean Head II

Describe the impact on you of ONE of the paintings viewed on our tour- talk about how it has opened up your understanding of the key issues in the period we are studying!

The trip to the Art Galley was more enlightening and intriguing than I imagined. As we walked through the different rooms with our friendly lecturer-turned-tourguide, the painting Antipodean Head II by Albert Tucker caught my attention. This usually would not be the type of painting I would usually be drawn to just because it is not the style I would see and straight away admire. Instead, I had to really think and analyse before I could completely appreciate it; actions that made the painting somewhat more valuable in my untrained eyes.

antipodean head II

Albert Tucker- Antipodean Head II ( collection/works/OA36.1960/)

The painting you see on the left is the aforementioned unconventional masterpiece that peaked my interest. At first glance, I saw only what appeared to be a piece of bark; distinctly Australian due to the strange markings that are associated with Australian flora. Might I add that although you cannot see it in the digital image, the textures used by Tucker truly made this look like a part of the natural environment due to the layering of materials. As I continued to look (trying to make sense of it by tilting my head, trying to look at it upside-down and twisting into a number of strange positions resembling those of an amateur acrobat), I realised that the answer was (quite literally) staring me in the face. I finally saw the face of a man within the markings.

Finally the true meaning of the painting became clear to me. This was a reflection on the identity of Aboriginal peoples through the connection with their land and environment. The man being created out of the bark of Australian flora is not only a symbol, but a true representation of what it means to be an Indigenous person in Australia. This relates to the ideas mentioned in my previous posts about connection and the impact that dispossession has had on the identity of individuals and communities. Being painted in the 1960’s, this particular work would be under the influence of the Stolen Generations showing that it was not only original settlement that destroyed identity, but it was still continuing then and, in many ways, it still is today. This really deepened my understanding of the importance of the spiritual connection to the environment Aboriginal people had and continue to have. Seeing this as a visual representation made me feel this in a vastly different way to which I have interpreted it through reading; strangely, this was a much more personal and touching experience. Whatever the reason for this, it is clear that Albert Tucker’s painting gives a deep insight into the spirituality and identity of Aboriginal Australians.The emotion demonstrated has shaped my understanding to a great extent acheiving the ability to convey and the meaning behind the man hidden in the bark.