Bruce Dawe Drifter Dregs

What is the poem about?
This is a carefree natural poem about an Australian phenomenon of transient or nomadic workers.  Not quite as reviled as the gypsies of Europe, transient workers originated as shearers, rouseabouts or sundowners in early colonial times.  Not willing to settle down in predictable settings, the transient workers preferred the adventure of new surroundings and meeting new people.  Its attractions today extend to global citizens who regularly migrate to new continents.

Soft, smooth consonants and gentle vowels.

Onomatopoeic “bump”.

This poem depicts the inevitability of restlessness in the life of a transient, gipsy like, rouseabout family. The poem illustrates the fatalistic impermanence of the family’s existence.

III. THEMES Subtle suggestions
    Brevity of happiness; the transience of life, nothing gold can stay

Uncertainty in life of the drifter; “One day soon..”

aimlessness, shiftless, feckless. Unpacked bottling set.

Unfulfilled dreams; “Make a wish, Tom, make a wish.”

Maturity and parental responsibility vs. Childhood’s infectious excitement “for no reason” puppy also dashes about.

Younger daughter “beaming” anticipating new possibilities; Older daughter “is close to tears” maturely craving stability?

Wife acquiescent, defeatist and subservient to husband’s whims or realistically accepting of Tom’s valid sixth sense of what is best? “she won’t even ask why they’re leaving this time..”


The family is unable to establish roots because they keep moving house/communities.

Some people in the family like moving from place to place, but others don’t (the kids are ‘wildly exited’ and the oldest girl is ‘close to tears’).
The mother has abandoned control of where the family is headed.

Belonging to a place is closely tied to belonging in a family. All people in this family are affected by the father’s decision to relocate. To belong in...