Municipal Gum was written by Kath Walker in 1960. Municipal Gum is about the changes in society and the tendency of people to want to control everything. Kath Walker uses various techniques to convey this idea.
At the beginning of the poem Kath Walker is addressing the tree. This immediately creates empathy for both the tree and her people. By the last line she has emphasised this with the pronoun “us” to show that they suffer a similar fate.
Juxtaposition and personification are used in the first two lines of the poem. “Gumtree in the city street, Hard Bitumen around your feet”. The use of these techniques immediately gives the impression that the author is disapproving of the concept. The idea that a gumtree is in the city is, although not unheard of, the traditional or immediate image that one sees when talking about a gum tree. The use of juxtaposition highlights the contrast between the two. “Gumtree in the city… wild bird calls” is also an example of juxtaposition, this is used to further emphasise how out of place the gumtree is. Personification is used to create a persona for the audience to have sympathy for and to create vivid imagery. “Whose hung head… its hopelessness” The author uses this as further re-iteration of the immorality of the situation and by the use of analogy comparing the tree to her people to further emphasise the shame and lack control of that the Europeans have inflicted upon her and the environment.
Symbolism is used a lot in Municipal Gum. The gumtree itself is actually symbolic of Kath Walker and the Aboriginal community that has been manipulated and controlled by the European invaders.
My response to 'Then and Now' and 'Civilisation' Then and now The poem 'Then and Now' compares the different generations of the old and the new. The old refers to the period of time where Aborigines could roam their country without any troubles, their lifestyles were able to be expressed as there was no control in authority in that period of time. The new generation is where everything has ...
Walker uses vivid language to present these ideas. For example the use of the word castrated is very effective. The connotation of the word is a very demeaning, clinical operation. With castration often comes a sense of a loss of pride and power. The word castration is symbolic of how Kath Walker feels the Europeans have treated Aboriginal people and the environment. Castration also refers to the fact that what is done is done. Nothing can undo the operation, or the damage caused by ignorance.
Other symbolism includes the title “Municipal Gum”, municipal meaning community, implies that the gumtree belongs to the community. One of the vast differences between European and Aboriginal law is that Aboriginal people did not believe in the ownership of land or of animals and plants. Municipal Gum is a reference to the Europeans assumptions that everything is theirs to own and control. Kath Walker disagrees.
The rhetorical question, “O fellow citizen, What have they done to us?” is the conclusion of the implications that have been made throughout the poem. Kath Walker, is advocating for her people and all things wronged by the controlling behaviour of the Europeans. Rhetorical questions are used to provoke thought and to stimulate a pre-determined response. “What have they done to us?” They have “castrated, broken… strapped and buckled” and ultimately changed things to a point that they cannot be fixed.
In conclusion, Municipal Gum is a poem about the constrictions and change that the European invaders forced upon the Aboriginal community and the environment. Kath Walker, believes that the Europeans have deemed themselves ever powerful and practice their power in a manner that is immoral.