The Past

Topics: Indigenous Australians, Time, Poetry Pages: 5 (1762 words) Published: July 14, 2008
“The Past”

“The Past” by Oodgeroo portrays both the author’s resentment for the mistreatment of aboriginals in the past and also depicts her desires. Oodgeroo Conical her aboriginal name also knows as Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska was the first Aborigine women to have her works published in which she used to promote aboriginal rights. Oodgeroo’s has a variety of poems which all are very direct, uses accessible rhyme schemes and allusion. Poems such as “Dark unmarried mothers, “Time is running out” and “The dawn is at hand” corresponds well to this poem. On other hand, “Let us not be bitter” has a large contrast between “The Past” but is thematically linked. Oodgeroo has used effective language devices such as imagery, metaphors, figurative language, personification and many more to aid the reader to understand the deeper meaning of this poem. Oodgeroo starts off expressing her resentment for the past and manifests its significance and its effects upon her. The poet illustrates the surrounding of suburbia which is then juxtaposed by the poet’s discussion of her dream.

Oodgeroo’s polemic argument on the fact that she will never forget the mistreatment of not only towards herself but also to the whole aboriginal race by white people is created through her use of language devices, which builds the negative tone. In line “Let no one say the past is dead” (1) the words “no one” acts as an absolute. Personification is used in the line when death, a human quality is given to a non human thing such as the past. Also the word “dead” has connotations of the deceased and gone. These devices provides the reader the impression of bitterness the author has regarding to the past.

In lines “Let no one say the past is dead” (1) and “Let none tell me the past is wholly gone” (25) there is repetitions of the words “let” and “The Past” but more so the connotative meaning of both lines are very much the same. In line 25, the word “none” acts as the absolute and the word” wholly” which is accented in the iambic pentameter gives emphasis to the word gone. These two lines once again reinforce the issue that she will never forget the past.

The repetitions of the words “The Past” in lines 1, 2,6,25 and the title help assemble the significance of the past in this poem. “The Past” refers to the history of aboriginals being denied basic rights and freedom in their own country. In lines “Haunted by tribal memories, I know” Oodgeroo appeals to an emotion of kinship emphasizing the relationship she has with both the past and her tribal memories. It manifests her feeling of the past which are as much of her as those tribal memories are. In order to do this, the poet has accented the syllables Haunted, Tribal and Memories. The word “Haunted” have connotations of evil and ghostly figures and the words “Tribal Memories” not only refers to the past but also beliefs and stories of the dream time that are passed down to children by their elders.

Oodgeroo’s belief of how her present perception is not who she really is but how the past has had a dominating impact on her which has developed her personality is echoed in lines “I know This little now, this accidental present Is not the all of me, whose long making Is so much of the past” (4,5,6). The poet amplifies this by using a comparison in line “Now is so small a part of time, so small a part of all the race years that have moulded me” (26, 27). Oodgeroo conveys how the present time is so small but is nothing compared to the past which has influenced and developed her identity. In this context, the word “race” has connotations of people’s skin colour and ethnicity which provides the reader with the insinuated meaning of years of racism and prejudice the aboriginals endure which were put upon them by white people. The word “all” which the poet has accented signifies the amount of years the past which was filled with discrimination has influenced her. The metaphor “moulded me” draws a comparison...
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