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4Aboriginal Poetry

Aboriginal Poetry Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The poem spiritual song of the aborigine is a continuous prose poem of 17 lines. It rhyming scheme consists of the word “I am” which starts five of the lines in the poem (Maris n.d). The letters “I’m” starts two consecutive lines in the poem (Meyer 1996). Assonance is used in the poem by the use of the vowel “e” at the end of most lines in the poem.

Personification is a poetic device that is widely used in this poem in the following lines: “I am the river”, “I am the snow” and in the reference to the spirit dancing. The second poetic device similes is found in the second line “like the gnarled palm tree” and in the ninth line “red as the blood”. Thirdly, use a number of metaphors throughout the poem to signify her connection to the land, they include: “I am this land” , “ I am Australia”. Other techniques used in the poem include symbolism in the 14th line; “no other man of a different hue” (Meyer 1996). Finally, there are two examples of alliteration in the poem; “gnarled gum” and “river softly singing”.

The poem reveals the connection of the aborigine community to the environment. The poem reveals that the aborigines believe that the environment is as good a part of them as their own blood (Davis and Hodge 1985b). The poem also shows that land has been an integral part of aboriginal heritage from time immemorial by referring to the time when the earth was new (Read 2000). The poem also shows that the aborigines care about animals in the wilderness referring to most of the animals in their environment with admiration (Meadows 2001).

Protection is a poem by Eva Johnson decrying how the aborigines lost their dignity and freedom when they were conquered by Europeans (Davis and Hodge 1985). The poem is structured into four stanzas of four lines each totaling 14 lines. Rhyme is found in the first stanza where the words “free” end the first and second line. In the third stanza rhyme again is used where the first and third line end with the consonant “Y”.


The poem protection by Eva Jackson also employs a variety of poetic devices. First, similes are used to stress how the white colonialist wanted aborigine children brought up; “as white as could be” (Goldie 1982). Secondly, in the phrase “never needed” alliteration is used to stress that the aborigines never needed white protection. Thirdly, capitalization is used to stress the word “PROTECTION” meaning the word refers to a wider meaning other than the obvious (Meyer 1996). Dissonance is used in the poet to show the different roles the Europeans took; “teacher, official and missionary”. Repetition is widely applied in the poem to emphasize the word “PROTECTION” which appears at the end of the every Stanza. The repetition of the word “Gone” is used to draw attention to the theme that the aborigine lost.

This poem brings out the resentment among aboriginal people of their occupation of their land by Europeans (Riemenschneider and Davis 1997). It shows how they resent being prevented by Europeans from bringing up their children the traditional way. It also shows the close family bonds among aborigines as they regret their sons being taken away from them. The poem concludes that the aborigines lost too much to gain white protection that they did not need.


Davis, J, & Hodge, RIV 1985, Aboriginal writing today: papers from the First National Conference of Aboriginal Writers held in Perth, Western Australia in 1983 (No. 56), Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island.

Davis, J, & Hodge, RIV 1985b, Dingo makes us human: life and land in an Australian Aboriginal culture, Cambridge University Press

Goldie, T 1982, The aboriginal connection: A study of Charles Mair’s Tecumseh and Henry Kendall’s “the glen of Arrawatta”, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 21(2), 287-297.

Maris, H n.d, Poem Spiritual Song of the Aborigine, Accessed 6th June 2013,

Meadows, M 2001, Voices in the wilderness: Images of Aboriginal people in the Australian media (Vol. 59), Praeger Pub Text.

Meyer, M 1996, The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, and Writing, Bedford & St, Boston

Read, P 2000, Belonging: Australians, place and Aboriginal ownership, Cambridge University Press.

Riemenschneider, D, & Davis, GV (Eds.) 1997, Ar̲atjara: aboriginal culture and literature in Australia (Vol. 28), Rodopi.