Analysis of the Poem 'Ballad of the Totems'

Topics: Culture, Indigenous Australians, Mother Pages: 2 (496 words) Published: August 17, 2013
Ballad of the Totems Poem Analysis

In the book, ‘The Dawn is at Hand’, written by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, the first aboriginal to push for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights in Australia, had her book published in 1992. One of poems included in this book is the cultural Ballad, ‘Ballad of the Totems which communicates about family-concerning values of status and ones cultural differences and beliefs. By ultilizing these values, the poet is able to fabricate a domineering and tense mood within the indigenous family and correlate with the reader.

Differences in Cultural Beliefs are an idea that is continually portrayed throughout the ballad-structured poem. External rhyming is used when ‘Father was a Noonucal man’ while ‘Mother was of Peewee clan,’ which is presenting that they are both from different tribes. Thus, they do not share the same beliefs and traits. Father’s ‘totem was the carpet snake/ whom none must ever slay’ whilst the mother shared the ‘daring view that carpet snakes were nothing but a pest.’ Illustrated here is juxtaposition comparing the Mothers daring view of carpet snakes to father’s opposing sacred belief of them. Furthermore, their cultural differences construct a tense mood where each others thoughts and ideas do not accord within the family. Ultimately, the disagreements follow in consequences, and with this, the snake disappeared along with the passing of the Father. Yet, Mother ‘seemed to have a secret smile’ and ‘looked about as innocent as the cat/ that ate the pet canary.’ By using consonance and simile, we are able to conclude that cultural inflicted conflicts can lead to bitter and tense moods. This allows the reader and audience to contemplate what cultural differences in an Indigenous family, or any family can consequence in.

The status, significance or command of a member within the family can depend upon many factors. In this particular ballad, the Father plays the role in the family as the man who controls...
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