Amidst the “hot pies and potato-chips”, “innocent monsters” and “resurgent lions”, Dawe effectively illustrates Victorian popular culture in the poem “Life-cycle”. Generally speaking, the subject matter is associated with Victorian lifestyle, notwithstanding the prevalent reference specifically to AFL football. Humour and good intentions counterbalance sentiments of condescending ridicule. Dawe flippantly suggests that “the tides of life will be the tides of the home-team’s fortunes”. Whilst some may be inclined to assume that Dawe is merely mocking a preoccupied Victorian society, it is worth mentioning that his criticisms are far from hostile. In fact, it would be fair to say that they are detailed with an affectionate and benevolent disposition.
Whimsically, Dawe depicts a solitary culture conditioned by an overwhelming fascination with AFL football. The insinuation that Victorians are born into football loyalty, similar to that of religion, suggests that Dawe possesses the unique ability to detect similarities in events that are generally opaque to the standard eye. Biblical references throughout the poem cast an additional dimension in the audience’s minds. The mention of the “empyrean” and the booming of the commentator from the stands could arguably be hypothesised as having a religious underpinning. In a biblical sense, “empyrean” means the highest heaven and the booming commentator could likewise be compared with a religious God – an Almighty all-seeing onlooker. Dawe further develops comparisons in the form of non-religious similes. For example, the comparison between “rippling minds” and “streamers”, and for descriptive purposes, children are defined as “little monsters who have been years swimming towards the daylight’s roaring empyrean”.
The relationship fabricated between Dawe and his audience is far more personal than that achieved by similar poets. The language is seemingly colloquial, vernacular and familiar to everyday Australians, despite the occasional rise of cerebral biblical dialect. Dawe utilises are variety of poetic devices to convey a powerful sense of imagery. The deliberate exaggeration for dramatic effect (otherwise known as a hyperbole) is used in the phrase “the pure flood of sound”. In this instance, the obvious exaggeration encourages a greater sense of aural imagery. In terms of visual imagery, descriptions of “club-colours”, “beribboned cots” and hoisting children shoulder-high, enables the reader to gain a perceptive appreciation of what football loyalty entails.
The symbolic application of the “litter Tiger”, “resurgent lions”, Demons and Saints, highlight the obvious significance of football mascots. Alliteration such as “passion persisting” emphasises the strong emotional attachment that football followers rightfully possess. Repetition is also incorporated in the way of “Carn… Carn…” furthermore developing the image of the hot-headed and perhaps at times ‘obsessive’ nature of the supporters. The title “Life-cycle” presents a clear and concise summary of the overall theme. It generally implies a cyclic renewal of the football culture and spirit, despite the entrance and/or departure of members from an eminent football entourage.
It becomes apparent that, similar to the poem “not-so-good-earth”, there is an underlying message of preoccupation that humans have the tendency to engage in. Dawe approaches this issue in the absence of overwhelming criticism or applause, consequently producing a light-hearted and entertaining satirical poem.