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The poem “Spiritual Song of the Aborigine” is written by Hyllus Maris. The poem was written in 1983. In the poem, the poet talks about the love the indigenous community of Australia has towards their ancestral land. She talks about the love and bond she feels towards her bland and culture. The reader can feel the pride that the poet feels towards the land and traditions.
About the poet
Hyllus Noel Maris was born in 1933 in Echuca in Australia. She was a poet, educator and an activist for the rights of the Aboriginal community. She was also a playwright. She was a part of the Yorta Yorta tribe. She wrote short stories like the “Concrete Box”, and poems like the “Spiritual Songs of the Aborigine”.
The poem is written in 17 lines. It has not been divided into any stanzas.
I am a child of the Dreamtime People Part of this land, like the gnarled gumtree I am the river, softly singing Chanting our songs on my way to the sea My spirit is the dust-devils Mirages, that dance on the plain I'm the snow, the wind and the falling rain I'm part of the rocks and the red desert earth Red as the blood that flows in my veins
The speaker calls herself the offspring of the “Dreamtime People”. Dreamtime is a cultural belief of the indigenous communities of Australia about the origins of their ancestors as well as the landscape and creatures. By “Dreamtime People” the speaker is identifying herself as an aborigine. She considers herself to be a part of the landscape. Just like a tree is part of the scenery of a land, the speaker too is an integral part of the natural canvas. She calls herself the river flowing towards the sea.
She compares herself to the singing river and talks about how the singing and chanting of songs is a part of her cultural identity. She compares herself to the mirages on the desert of the land. She also calls herself the snow, rain and wind. The speaker ingrains herself deeply as a natural element of the land by comparing herself to land, earth and water. The speaker feels herself to be a part of the rocks and red soil of the desert, as red as her blood.
The poem begins by the persona calling herself the child of the “Dreamtime People”. Dreamtime is an important element of the culture of the Aboriginal community. It is the story of their ancestors and how the world came into being. The poet asserts her identity as an Aborigine by referring to the idea of Dreamtime.
She then goes on to compare herself to every part of the landscape, like the river, the snow, the wind, the rain, the dust-mirages in the desert and the red rocks. She feels inherently and primitively connected to her land. She says that her “spirit” is the dust-devils in the desert. Her “blood that flows” in her veins is the same red as the red rocks and the red sand of the desert. Each of these elements signify her connection to each sphere of the land, the earth, the air and the water of her country.
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides Through the rainforest that clings to the mountainside I awakened here when the earth was new There was emu, wombat, kangaroo No other man of a different hue I am this land And this land is me I am Australia.
The speaker compares herself to the animals of the country. She is the eagle, the crow and the snake on the land. She says that her spirit was awakened in the rainforests that are present on the side of mountains. She was here when the earth was new and dominated by the emu, wombat and kangaroos. All of these animals are native species of Australia. These species are specific to the country and can not be found anywhere else.
The speaker says that earlier there were no men of different skin color on the land. The poem ends by the speaker asserting that she and the land of Australia are one and the same. She does not differentiate herself from her country and believes that her identity is inherently linked with the essence of the land.
The poet again compares herself to the other elements of nature. She calls herself an eagle, crow and snakes. All of these animals eat their prey whole. This symbolizes how the poet too can “eat up” her enemies to protect her culture. The poet talks about the rainforest that clings to the mountainside. This again symbolizes the deep connection between the natural elements.
She says that she was awakened on an earth which was new. This points at her lineage which dates back to the birth of the land. She talks about how in the beginning there were emus, wombats and kangaroos in the land. These animals are native to Australia and symbolize the uniqueness of the land.
The next line highlights a time before colonization, when the only people in the country were the aboriginal tribes. The poem ends on a very strong and bold statement where the poet says that she is the land and the land is her. The poet identifies as her homeland and calls herself Australia.