are without

Enter Without So Much as Knocking

Enter Without So Much as Knocking is a poem written by Bruce Dawe. It can be found in the compilation, Sometimes Gladness: Collected Poems 1954 - 1992.



The poem was written in 1959 and displays an Australia during the advent of television. The post-war period of the 1950's and 1960's was a time of affluence when society and social values were changing. The poem follows one child in a typical nuclear family from birth through a rushed life, where he has little time for reflection, to his early death in an accident.

The poem opens with the birth of the main character and the first sound he hears is the television. It is as if he is born when the television is turned on. When he dies his death is like a television being turned off, leaving silence.


The father, mother and siblings in the poem are described using labels common in advertising. The mother is described as "economy-size(d)", this can be translated as "large". The term is usually used for soap powder or grocery purchases to imply quantity. The father is described as an "Anthony Squires-Coolstream-Summerweight Dad" and the siblings as being "straight off the Junior Department rack". Both these descriptions refer to clothing styles and the terms could be used in glossy magazines to describe new clothes. The people inside the clothing are not described, they are without character. They could be replaced by showroom dummies.

Watching television, game shows, drive-in cinemas, and shopping are the activities of the people in this poem. The impression is of everything being new and shiny, modern, full of activity and crowded, until death. It is only the stars behind the drive-in movie screen that have not been tidied up yet, that are not part of the circus.

Social Behaviours

The changing purchasing patterns and emerging consumerism of the time is very evident in the poem, as is the changing moral behaviours and attitudes. The animal-like behaviours of the actors in the movies, where they "snarled screamed" or made "monsterous love", and the aggressive, competitive behaviour, where to "hit wherever you see a head and kick whoever's down", are seen to be acceptable and normal by the characters in the poem.

In death the main character in the poem is given the illusion of happiness. The morticians gives him back the smile he lost in life and in addition gives him a "healthy tan". Also in death he had no worries about money and no fears about disintegrating, or of having bad breath or his hair falling out, but he has no life and the show is over.


This poem is set as a high school text in New South Wales.

External links

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