Dreamtime Poem by Oodgeroo Noonuccal Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “Dreamtime” was written by Oodgeroo Noonuccal. The poem talks about the colonial history of Australia. The land of cultural heritage, sacred ceremonies and moral values had lost their lives due to the invasion of colonisers. The domination of alien culture and language makes the place unfit for the speaker to live.

About the Poet:

Oodgeroo Noonuccal is an Aboriginal Australian Activist who voiced out for the rights of people. The poem “Dreamtime” was read by her on the steps of the Parliament. She was the first Aboriginal Australian Poet to publish a poetry book.


The poem “Dream time” is a thirty lines long poem. It is grouped into a single stanza. The poem is written in the lyric form. 

Point of view:

The poem “Dreamtime” is written from the perspective of the aboriginal people of Australia.

Speaker of the poem:

The poet Noonuccal is the speaker of the poem


The poem “Dreamtime” talks about the loss of cultural heritage, sacred ceremonies and language in their native. The poet feels that her own native place became unfit to live a life. The invasion of foreign people affected their way of living. The poet longs for the happy life they lived once in the past. She invokes the spirits of the ancestors to guide her in this situation. The poet talks about how brave their ancestors lived their life. The poet calls the “Mother of life” to lead them to the happy life of how they lived in the past. At the end of the poem, she says that she is ready to live the place in which she lived happily once.

Poem Analysis:-

Lines 1-8:

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.

The speaker of the poem says that his native is invaded by the Europeans. So  their language has become dominant in their native. They feel like strangers in their own place. It makes them feel sad. So, they dream about their ancestors. The speaker mentions the Bora ring and the Corroborees. Bora Ring is a ceremony where the youth get initiated as manhood by performing the sacred rituals. The term “Bora Ring” is the place where this ritual takes place. The Corroboree is the dance ceremony of their native. All these native ceremonies have been destroyed by the invasion. All their ceremonies turned like dust on their own land. 

Lines 9-16:

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 speaker calls the spirits to hear their painful voices. She demands them by saying “Hear us now”. The term “We” refers to the people of “Australia”. She says that they have come not to disturb them but to mourn. She mentions how bravely they fighted with the invaders and lost their life. The speaker says that the ancestors paid the price when the invaders tried to split their blood. The ancestors came forward and shed their lives for the next generation. But the present generation is missing them. So, they are in need of their assistance. Though they get strength and wisdom while listening to the life of ancestors. They need them now.

Lines 17-25:

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.

The speaker feels that the “Aboriginal race” is the soul of the country. It got destroyed by the invasion of colonisers. So, the speaker says, once our race dies the land also dies. The speaker feels like an alien in his native place, so he is no longer interested in living in the place. He calls the “Mother of life” to wake from her sleep. She asks her to lead us to a happy life like the past.

Lines 26-30:

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 speaker calls them “Mother of life” and “spirits’ ‘ from the unhappy past. The speaker urges them to listen  to their crying. The speaker ends the poem with the line “Let it be so”. Here, she is ready to leave the land which was once a happy place for her.