This poem, entitled At Cooloola was written by Judith Wright in
The blue crane fishing in Cooloola’s twilight
Has fished there longer than our centuries.
He is the certain heir of lake and evening,
And he will wear their colour till he dies.
But I’m a stranger, come of a conquering people.
I cannot share his calm, who watch his lake,
Being unloved by all my eyes in delight,
And made uneasy, for an old murders sake.
Those dark-skinned people who once named Cooloola
Knew that no land is lost or won by wars.
For earth is spirit: the invaders feet will tangle
In nets there and his blood be thinned by fears.
Riding at noon and ninety years ago,
My grandfather was beckoned by a ghost-
A black accoutred warrior armed for fighting,
Who sank into bare plain, as now into time past.
White shores of sand, plumed reed and paperbark,
Clear heavenly levels frequented by crane and swan-
I know that we are justified only by love,
But oppressed by arrogant guilt, have room for none.
And walking on clean sand among the prints
Of bird and animal, I am challenged by a driftwood spear
Thrust from the water; and, like my grandfather,
Must quiet a heart accused by its own fear.
As we all know Judith Wright was a Aboriginal land rights activist, which becomes relevant when reading and understanding her poetry, in particular this one. The poem explores the link between aboriginal people and the land and the ways in which white settlement interrupted it.
Wave Hill Strike 1966 In August 1966 Gurindji people at Wave Hill cattle station went on strike demanding wages and a return of some of their traditional lands. The demand was rejected but the Gurindji continued to camp on their traditional country at Daguragu - they broke the white man's law but obeyed their own. The campaign was taken up by supporters in Australia's cities and eventually the ...
Throughout the poem the general tone is one of shame in conjunction with hints of sadness, guilt and anger. Wright uses extensive imagery to attempt to manipulate the audience to truly understand the significance of this land to aboriginal people and more importantly how white settlement destroyed these ties. Her guilt is highlighted in the second stanza, where she says “But I am a stranger, come of a conquering people”. This suggests that she believes the white settlers had made Aboriginal people had been made a repressed race and outcasts in their own land.
To accurately analyse and critique this poem, we must first know the context in which it was written in.