Lyrical Components in Jean Bailey’s Song the Long March


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In October 1934 90,000 Red Army soldiers were forced to begin a journey that would be revered worldwide. While retreating from SE China the Kuomintang began to pursue by the Red Army. While travelling and fighting this legion of men marched through 18,000 km of some of the harshest landscape entailing mountain ranges, major rivers, dense forest and icy swamps.

Whilst travelling the soldiers had passed through many provinces, each of which the Army had enforced rules to share among the community and redistributed estate, and left collections of men to help the peasants set up self-governing councils. This journey ultimately brought about the over turn of the governing powers and the establishment of communism.

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‘The Long March’ is an objective article detailing the events, consequences and lasting effects that this voyage created. This was a journey based symbolic, sacrificial and political reasons more than any geographical choice, of which the implications may still be noted throughout Asia.

The admiration the long march received is vastly credited to the composition of the Red Army itself. Prior to the journey these men were strangers to one another, but within the Red Army and bonded by a common goal, of communism, were able to unify. The challenging journey required for the men to form trusting and respectful relationships with each other, as their only hope for survival was through teamwork. This is displayed as the Army crosses freezing mountain ranges, ” The stronger hauled at the weaker, or supported them, or carried their rifles”

Through the determination of all involved to achieve their concluding result the physical journey caused a change in the situation and consequently a change in all the men’s priorities.

Within ‘The Long March’ the text highlights how the physical journey enables them to over come adversity. Challenges that would otherwise be concerned unfeasible, were confronted and completed, this determination may be credited to the degree of importance this journey had acquired. This idea may be exposed by the description of soldiers crossing a damaged bridge, “All footing had been removed… below the water churned and frothed…soon twenty-two volunteers… were clinging to the chains and moving along hand over hand”, these soldiers edged across a large river on a chain towards the other side that was on fire while getting shoot at! The challenge was met regardless of the severity.

This is also supported by the text stating that the pursuing Kuomintang had more numerous causalities when crossing the Grasslands and decided to retreat due to the harsh conditions, this is evidence to verify that because they had no ingrained determination to embark on such a challenging physical journey they proved unable to over come adversity.

As The Red Army voyaged across the country, the journey began to take more of a symbolic significance. The respect they received for the sacrifice and determination involved towards voicing their beliefs of communism. The Red Army became a symbol of union and power due to the inability of the Kuomintang to immobilize their forces. Unification of the army’s forces caused them to emerge as a symbol, which was a direct result of the physical journey.

An Army engineer presents his memories of the Red Army displaying their symbolic power, ” at night we sang and made torches… From the summit we could look in both directions and see miles of torches moving forward like a wave of fire”

One point of physical journey I feel this article stresses is the unpredictability of physical journey. The irony of how by retreating from the enemy as they felt they would otherwise be defeated, the Red Army achieved overall victory, or how fear and adversity can incubate love and respect. A physical Journey is unpredictable and uncontrollable and this article is evidence of this.


The Author of ‘The Long March’, Jean Bailey, uses several techniques within the article to stress certain points. Being an objective article Jean uses selective information to enable her stress points and make subtle opinions to increase the articles appeal, this is displayed by the author failing to state most of the Red armies problems, casualties, problems with communism, implemented as such data would counteract tone of article.

The author also uses imagery of many conditions the soldiers with the intention of making the reader feel empathetic towards the soldiers, displayed by “Fog, hail, snow. It grew so cold that breath turned to webbed ice.”

Jean Bailey enforces the idea of unification by using a quote that uses simile with symbolic significance, “…lights coiling like a fiery dragon up the mountainside… torches moving forward like a wave of fire”

The author intends the audience once more to feel empathy and relate to the soldiers as ordinary people by using visual stimulus. This image also conveys the idea of unification and respect among them.

The structure is sequential in the timing of events with a standard introduction and conclusion to add interest to the topic.

Links to Core

The text ‘The Long March’ link with the core topic of Peter Skrzynecki in several ways. The optimism towards the ‘The Long March’ is stated quite explicitly, “Morale was high… companies would sing”, their journey ahead is exciting and will be rewarding, and their situation requires them to aspire for some thing. This is concurrent with emotions felt by Peter’s immigrant’s in ‘Crossing the Red Sea’, whereby the immigrants are escaping there home lands to a place they feel shall offer them and their families opportunities and safety. “They beckoned towards a blood-rimmed horizon…the equator was still to be crossed”, the blood rimmed sunrise signifies the beginning of a new part of their lives and renewal whilst the ‘equator still to be crossed identifies the still huge journey ahead.

Also ‘Immigrants at Central Station’ displays similar emotions, “Along glistening tracks of steel”, which portrays the tracks as dream-like as they are so important to these immigrants journey and are leading them to their new lives.

The common link between the pieces is the creation of optimism. As their situations are currently distressing they look to the future for motivation, and physical journey offers optimism with changes and new opportunities.

A major aspect of ‘The Long March’ is how the soldiers continually over come adversity in many situations along their journey, such as crossing the damaged bridge. Although in Peter Skrzynecki’s poem’s the immigrants initially defeat adversity by travelling to Australia throughout the rest of the poem’s the immigrant’s continue to accept their suffering this is demonstrated when the immigrant stay at the hostel and feel they need sanction from the world, and when Felix Skrzynecki fails to resolve his son’s loss of culture and suffering relationship. However during ‘A Drive in the Country’ we see in the closing lines “walks away from a road that only runs one way.”

A physical journey will never lose momentum but may only be shaken and diverted by ones own choices in life, while the immigrants continually succumbed to adversity they had no control over their lives, but by’ walking away from a road’ they shall alter their path for the better.

Being in article format ‘The Long March’ resultantly is not only subjective but almost reduced of most character emotion and filled mostly with facts, data and details. In direct contrast all of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems are filled with much more emotion based text, like simile, metaphor, imagery.

Whilst ‘The Long March’ comes to a conclusion, none of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems have a sense of finality resultant of how he feels about his journey and life.


The original reason I selected this piece was because I found it so interesting and surreal, The distance they travel and circumstances they endure makes it impossible not to feel for these heroic men, I was surprised also as I never heard of the event before. I felt this article was based on a physical journey that was a true accomplishment and I felt it’s consequences spanned further than any other material I had viewed.

I think the author did a great job portraying the story using this text type, although I think the into duction of side plots or characters would have wrecked the reality of the story, I do feel that this type of article should be more subjective, at least in conclusion.

From my related text I have learned about the events that took place throughout China that led to the establishment of communism.

I felt it was excellent revision for writing articles, as it has all the Structure, content, and layout.

I expanded my knowledge and understanding of physical journey by recognising them for symbolic uses, and being able to inspire and change a nation.

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