Commentary on Judith Wright's "Bora Ring"

Topics: Indigenous Australians, Australian Aboriginal culture, Indigenous Australian culture Pages: 3 (1050 words) Published: September 30, 2010
A bora ring is a sacred site for indigenous Australians where initiation ceremonies for indigenous males were held. In her poem "Bora Ring", Judith Wright mourns the loss in contemporary Australian society of the culture and traditions of indigenous Australians. She begins with descriptions of Aboriginal culture that has vanished as a result of European settlement. At the end of the poem, Wright recognizes the destruction wreaked upon indigenous Australians by their white brothers and shows remorse for these actions of the past. Through her use of diction, structural devices, and imagery, Wright expresses her sorrow at the disappearance of Aboriginal cultural heritage. In the first stanza of “Bora Ring,” Wright describes the loss of the songs, dances, stories and rituals of the Aboriginal Australians. Her use of the adjectives “gone”, “secret”, “useless” and “lost” emphasizes Wright’s regret that this ancient culture has disappeared. The poet, through her use of the metaphor “lost in an alien tale”, highlights how Aboriginal culture has been replaced by European culture as a result of white settlement in Australia. Her use of the word “alien” stresses her view that the white colonists do not belong in Australia; they are foreigners in the land. Wright’s use of end-stopping and caesura, in combination with trimeter and pentameter, creates short emphatic phrases that portray her belief that this loss is irrevocable. The slow pace of the quatrain also serves to depict the poet’s remorse at the destruction of indigenous traditions. In the second stanza, Wright describes the remains of a bora ring. The Aborigines are no longer present: “Only the grass stands up / to mark the dancing ring.” Nature is the only reminder of the lost Aboriginal culture. The grass is personified as “standing up”; it encircles the dancing ring, almost as if it is guarding this sacred area. Wright also personifies the apple-gums. She suggests that their movements and sounds in the wind,...
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