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We are going by Oodgeroo
Transcript of We are going by Oodgeroo
Oodgeroo Noonucal (Kath Walker)
Kath Walker who later changed her name to Oodgeroo Noonuccal was a Australian poet, political activist, artist and educator. Being aboriginal in heritage, she was a campaigner for Aboriginal rights. She is best known for her poetry was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of poetry.
The poem, 'We are going', by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, is expressing a strong sentiment that resonates amongst the indigenous Australian people, about the oppression and suffering inflicted upon them by the European Settlers and the long overdue equality and justice sought by the aboriginal Australians, the original and traditional owners of the land. Oodgeroo Noonuccal creates a voice that expresses the pain of dispossession as the Aboriginals return to visit their land. This refers to the fact that they had to give up on their old way of life and let go of the world that used to be theirs. This includes the land where they lived which had been claimed by the European settlers, forcing the natives out.
Structure & Laguage
This poem is vaguely and indistinctly structured.
There is no obvious structure. Rather, it is to be
viewed and appreciated as a whole, full, singular
piece of poetry. The poet simply begins a new line
every time an important and meaningful statement
is made. Each line has its own meaning.
The language of this poem paints a rich and piercing picture of the situation the aborigines faced. The repetition of personal language collectively reminds the indigenous Australians of their culture and forces the audience to reflect upon the damage and loss of the culture.
Like how the poem reflects upon physical land losses and furthermore cultural losses the poem paints vivid pictures of traditional culture, landscape and way of life but also creates the strong feeling of the atmosphere and sentiment of the aboriginal people, their rights and belongings taken away.
"We are the old sacred ceremonies, the laws of the elders. We are the wonder tales of the dreamtime, the tribal legends told. We are the past...
We are the lighting bolt over Gaphemba Hill..." etc.
These personification techniques are particularly powerful as they directly and personally link the old traditions, rituals, cultures, and way of life with the people, and this resonates loudly with the people and creates this atmosphere and feeling of pride yet oppression.
Tone & Mood
The poet Oodgeroo is somewhat grudgingly speaking out on what her fellow native people struggle to find words for: the destruction of culture, tradition, dignity, way of life, and the inhumanity against the traditional owners of the land. This sense of purpose and obligation has driven the poet to tell the story known by white man but dismissed. Therefore, the tone in the poem is one of despair and dispresssion, and with severe mourning.
The mood most suitable to this poem is melancholy which is the deep and long lasting of sadness. At the same time this poem is made with regret and frustration.
"They sit and are confused, they cannot say their thoughts"
Oodgeroo uses various poetic techniques and devices to express the themes present in the poem including colonisation, dispossesion and oppression.