Friday, July 13, 2012

Bora Ring and Eroded Hills

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Popular Australian poet Judith Wright expresses her sadness for the loss of the natural environment and the great spiritual significance of the Aboriginal people in her poems Eroded Hills and Bora Ring respectively. In Eroded Hills Wright expresses how progress is an enemy of the environment, and in Bora Ring the message of cultural loss and its effects are conveyed and encourage the reader to reflect on the Catholic teachings. This essay will analyse Eroded Hills and Bora Ring by looking at discourses alongside the dominant position of each, positioning techniques and their effects and the comparison between the two poems that link them to the Australian experience and identity.

In Eroded Hills, Judith Wright has adopted the discourses of conservation, environmentalism, progress, tradition and the passing of time to increase the reader’s awareness of the necessity to conserve our natural environment. The dominant position of this poem is that progress is the enemy of the natural environment. Our environment is precious, and over time unfortunately humans have been greedily snatching it away from its natural state. Thus Wright reminds her readers that people must preserve it otherwise nothing will remain standing.

Techniques used in Eroded Hills include predominantly personification accompanied by metaphors and similes. Personification has been powerfully and skilfully used to ascribe human qualities to the natural environment so that humans are able to identify with the hills from a human perspective. Phrases such as “hills bandaged in snow” and “eyelids clenched” make the hills sound vulnerable in an successful attempt to make the readers feel angry at the attackers (humans) that caused the trees and the hills to feel pain and suffering as a result of land clearing. Wright is privileging the hills so that the readers can empathise with their suffering as a result of progress in society. The poet has also used similes such as “crouch like shoulders naked and whipped” and “thoughts stand like trees here” that contribute the reader’s understanding of the destructive environmental effects of progress. A metaphor was also used “beggars to the winter wind” It can be seen that these phrases also resemble personification as they bring the reader to a more personal understanding of the hills suffering over progress which we are more likely to identify with.

The poem Bora Ring privileges alienation, Aboriginality, and, like Eroded Hills, (cultural) loss, and change over time to make readers aware of the impact of cultural loss on the Australian identity. The dominant position of this poem is that Aboriginal culture has been destroyed in an immediate and gradual context by white invaders. The Bora Ring in Aboriginal culture is a dance ground and Wright cleverly uses the Bora Ring to work metonymically by using one aspect to designate a circle of alienation for Aboriginal people. Therefore the poet encourages the readers to reflect and review on the way that this ancient culture could be brought into society.

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The main techniques used in Bora Ring include primarily metaphor, personification and oxymoron. One particular powerful metaphor was used to make readers better accept her dominant position, “a fear as old as Cain”. Wright links the relationship between white Australians and Aborigines to the relationship between Cain and Abel in a biblical story in the old testament, where one kills the other. Here it can be seen that white Australia has stepped into the shoes of Cain, killing the Aborigines culture (Abel). In the phrases “grass stands up” and “apple gums posture and mime a past corroboree, murmur a broken chant” personification has been used (as in the poem Eroded Hills) to create an ancient atmosphere that reflects to the reader the loss of culture and tradition for Aborigines. Oxymoron has also been used in the phrase “nomad feet are still” to explain to the readers the extent of the world of contradiction the Aboriginal people have had to endure. Wright has privileged the suffering of Aborigines and the loss of cultural identity, and has silenced the positive influences of white people, including communication and technical advancement. It can be seen that this was done so that readers are better able to empathise with the alienation and cultural loss of Aborigines by the white invaders.

Judith Wright has successfully used the poem Eroded Hills to express her sadness for the loss of the natural environment through the idea that progress is the enemy of the environment. The poet has made her readers empathise with the pain and suffering of the hills by personalising them with the environment. Similarly, the poem Bora Ring experienced loss but this time in a cultural sense. Wright cleverly linked the example of Cain and Abel to a modern-day situation.

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