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Dreamtime

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) Here, at the invaders talk-talk place, We, who are the strangers now, Come with sorrow in our hearts. The Bora Ring, the Corroborees, The sacred ceremonies, Have all gone, all gone, Turned to dust on the land, That once was ours. Oh spirits from the unhappy past, Hear us now. We come, not to disturb your rest. We come, to mourn your passing. You, who paid the price, When the invaders spilt our blood. Your present generation comes, Seeking strength and wisdom in your memory. The legends tell us, When our race dies, So too, dies the land. May your spirits go with us From this place. May the Mother of life, Wake from her sleeping, and lead us on to the happy life, That once was ours. Oh mother of life, Oh spirits from the unhappy past, Hear the cries of your unhappy people, And let it be so. Oh spirits Let it be so.

Writers Biography Oodgeroo of the Noonuccal, known until 1988 as Kath Walker, was born Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska on 3 November 1920, on North Stradbroke Island in South-East Queensland, one of seven children of Edward (Ted) Ruska and his wife Lucy (ne McCulloch). In the 1950s, Walker became interested in writing poetry. By the late 1950s she had joined the Brisbane arm of the Realist Writers Group, and some of her earliest poems appeared in the groups magazine, Realist Writer (later The Realist ). Her second poetry collection, The Dawn is at Hand , was published by Jacaranda in 1966. A third collection, My People: A Kath Walker Collection (1970, rev. eds. 1981, 1990) incorporated the content of the first two collections, and in later editions added new poems and essays. In 1988, as a protest against continuing Aboriginal disadvantage during the Bicentennial Celebration of White Australia, Walker returned the MBE she had been awarded in 1970, and subsequently adopted the Noonuccal tribal name Oodgeroo (meaning paperbark). Recognition of her literary, educational and political achievements continued to flow, however; she was awarded honorary doctorates from Macquarie University (1988), Griffith University (1989), Monash University (1991), and Queensland University of Technology (1992). In 1990, after the formation of the Australian and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), she was elected a member of the Southeast Queensland Regional Council. Oodgeroo died at her home on Stradbroke Island on 16 September 1993. Her distinctive and pioneering poetry was part of a literary legacy that went hand in hand with her political life. Poetry Collections : - We Are Going (Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1964). - The Dawn Is At Hand (Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1966). - My People: A Kath Walker Collection (Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1970, rev. eds. 1981, 1990). - Kath Walker in China (Beijing: International Culture Publishing Cooperative and Jacaranda Press, 1988).

Analysis of the Poem Dreamtime poem by Oodgeroo Noonnucal is one of many poems from Aboriginal poems genre. Noonuccal titled the poem as Dreamtime because Aborigines call the beginning of the world the Dreaming or Dreamtime. Aborigines are Australia's indigenous people. The name aborigine derives from the Latin, meaning "original inhabitants." The poem tells about the Aborigines feelings towards the invaders who dispossessed them, their feelings for being strangers in their own land that once was theirs before the invaders occupied the land which now has become Australia. It can be sensed in the following lines: Here, at the invaders talk-talk place, We, who are the strangers now, Come with sorrow in our hearts. The word invaders in the first line means people who have been residing in Australia but they are not natives. They came from many other parts of the world and populating Australia. The process of colonization by European powers a long time ago, as might be expected, has had a radical effect on Aboriginal culture. The invaders viewed the natives as barbarians, seizing tribal land. Many Aborigines died of disease, starvation, cultural dislocation and neglect. Today, there are fewer than 230,000 Aborigines in Australia, less than 2% of the population. The Bora Ring, the Corroborees, The sacred ceremonies, Have all gone, all gone, Turned to dust on the land, That once was ours. The Bora Ring (boorl or buhl) was highly significant in the daily and spiritual lives of Aboriginal people. Bora Ring is the place where the Aborigines dance and held their ceremony. A bora ground consisted of a large ring about six to eight metres across surrounding by a low earth mound. A long pathway connected it to other rings where initiation ceremonies took place. During initiation, boys were isolated from contact with women and were instructed about the Dreaming and traditional laws and customs. Meanwhile, the word Corroboree was first used by early European invaders to describe Aboriginal ceremonies that involved singing and dancing. Corroboree was the English

version of the Aboriginal word Caribberie. However since the Aborigines now are getting rare, these Bora Rings, Corroboree, and other traditions are slowly disappear, only the remainders still on the ground, becoming silent witnesses of the changing era. Oh spirits from the unhappy past, Hear us now. We come, not to disturb your rest. We come, to mourn your passing. The word spirits from the past means the Aborigines ancestors. The Aborigines honor their ancestor very much, and through this poem, Noonnucal pours the Aborigines complaints about their disappointment of their ancestors passing back then when the European invaders came to the land. Aborigines today face many problems as a result of the colonial project. Their numbers have been decimated, they face a great deal of unofficial discrimination and remain underprivileged socially, economically (the unemployment rate for Aborigines is more than six times the national average, and their average wage is less than half the national average) and politically (the militant movement started in the1970s, which aimed to bring about the creation of a separate Aboriginal state, has so far been unsuccessful). You, who paid the price, When the invaders spilt our blood. Your present generation comes, Seeking strength and wisdom in your memory. This is related to Dreamtime as the poems title. The Aboriginals believe that, in the beginning, the earth was featureless, flat and grey. There were no mountain ranges, no rivers, no billabongs, no birds or animals - in fact not one living thing. Then long, long ago came the Dreamtime. Aboriginal "Ancestors" rose from below the earth to form various parts of nature including giant animal species, bodies of water, and the sky. These giant animal species wandered across the vast grey wastes, digging for water and searching for food and as they searched, because of their giant size, they made huge ravines and rivers in the land. Thus the world took on the shape it has today.

The 13th line of the poem, You who paid the price explains us about how the ancestor first develop the world and yet nowadays people (present generation, line 15th) ruin the world by creating high buildings and such, seeking strength and wisdom in your (ancestors) memory. The legends tell us, When our race dies, So too, dies the land. These lines refer to the Aborigines way of life. Aboriginal spirituality entails a close relationship between humans and the land. Australian Aborigines migrated from somewhere in Asia at least 30,000 years ago, though they comprise 500600 distinct groups. Among these are strong spiritual beliefs that tie them to the land; a tribal culture of storytelling and art; and, like other indigenous populations. May your spirits go with us From this place. May the Mother of life, Wake from her sleeping, and lead us on to the happy life, That once was ours. Oh mother of life, Oh spirits from the unhappy past, Hear the cries of your unhappy people, And let it be so. Oh spirits Let it be so. The remains of the poems tells us about how the Aborigines wanted a happy life apart from being exiled from the society and being strangers to their own land. They hope for the Mother of life which we called Mother Nature (because Aborigines consider nature as their mother which gave them life), to lead them to the better future along with the spirits from the unhappy past.

References

http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/noonuccal-oodgeroo

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aboriginal1.html http://www.janesoceania.com/australia_aboriginal_dreamtime/index1.htm http://www.nudgeewaterholes.com/traditional_owners/bora_rings.shtml http://www.qub.ac.uk/imperial/austral/abo.htm http://www.indigenousaustralia.info/culture/corroborees-a-ceremonies.html