Over the years the art of poetry has been a medium for poets to express their opinions, understandings and ideas about the Australian identity. Before learning about this unit, I believed Australians were easy-going, kind and accepting people who had a deep connection with the environment. I believe my original understanding only accounted for a small portion of what I now believe is the true Australian identity. In studying Australian poetry I have realized that while we may have an intense love for our natural surroundings, we are also very competitive. This is often characterized by our human nature and fight for power over it and one another. Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s Time is Running Out’ and Paul Kelly’s ‘This Land is Mine’ has altered and deepened my original conceptions about the Australian identity which is shaped by our experiences that are unique to us.
Our fight for power is expressed in “Time is Running Out”. The poem presents us with an indigenous persons view on the white Australians actions towards the treatment of the land. The dominace in ‘Time is Running Out’ is demonstrated in the line “The minor rapes, the heart of the earth.” Here, assonance is used to quickly engage the reader into the poem. Personification is then used to appeal to the readers emotions and to give them a more vivid image of the issue at hand by assigning human attributes to Australia’s extremely valuable mineral rich land. Equally, in ‘This Land is Mine’ Kelly also uses the land as the central theme showing how European Australians believe that the land has a price which once paid for the rightful owner has complete control over. In the quote, “this land is mine, all the way to the old fence line, this land is mine, yeah I signed the dotted line” rhyming couplets are used to create an assertive tone as well as to evoke emotion in the reader and enhance the idea of dominance and power. These quotes portray the European Australians hunger for not only power but control that accompanies it.
Another aspect of the Australian identity that poetry encapsulates is our extreme love and passion for the land. An example of this exhibited in poetry is “show your strength, your violent, love of land.” Noonuccal uses the oxymoron ‘violent love’ to imbed a vivid and memorable image into the readers head while making them step back and think about the true meaning of the verse. This creates a powerful tone which expresses Noonuccal’s fighting spirit towards the land. Similarly in ‘this land is mine’ Kelly conforms to this attitude of Australian identity in the line “they won’t take it away from me” Here, Kelly refers to the land of both the farmer and the Aboriginals. High modality is used to create a sense of certainty and assertiveness. Our love and passion for our land is a large characteristic of the Australian identity and one that is continuously conveyed in Australian poetry.