World Poetry Day: The Dawn is at Hand

I would like to share a special poem to mark World Poetry Day with a very special and famous Indigenous female poet named Kath Walker, her traditional name being Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Oodgeroo Noonuccal was inspirational in her fight for equality both as a woman and an Indigenous Australian and is remembered for her wonderful printed works.

The piece I would like to share is called ‘The Dawn is at Hand’ taken from her amazing book of poetry also named ‘The Dawn is at Hand’ first published in 1966 by Jacaranda Press Pty Ltd. This book was a gift from my mother who had owned it for many years and I feel this piece is timeless but in saying that I do hope the words its speaks becomes in time a reflection on a past journey.

The Dawn is at Hand

By: Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Dark brothers, first Australian race

Soon you will take your rightful place

In the brotherhood long awaited for.

Fringe-dwellers no more.

 

Sore, sore the tears you shed

When hope seemed to folly and justice dead.

Was the long night weary? Look up, dark band

The Dawn is at Hand

 

Go Forward proudly and unafraid

To your birthright all too long delayed

For soon now the shame of the past

Will be over at last

 

You will be welcomed mateship-wise

In industry and in enterprise;

No profession will bar the door,

Fringe-dwellers no more.

 

Dark and white upon the ground

In club and office and social round,

Yours the feel of a friendly land,

The grip of the hand.

 

Sharing the same equality

In College and University

All ambitions of hand and brain

Yours to attain

 

For ban and bias will soon be gone

The future beckons you bravely on

To art and letters and nation lore,

Fringe-dwellers no more.

 

A powerful piece of hope. Considering the time of its publish 1966 there would have been so much hope in the air for a positive change which rolled into the 1967 Referendum in which over 90% of Australians voted in favour to grant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander the right to be acknowledged as citizens of Australia.

I will leave you with that because I think the piece speaks for itself. Hope and the importance of being Hopeful.

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2 thoughts on “World Poetry Day: The Dawn is at Hand

  1. Being a bit of an amateur poet this appeals to me. I offer humbly two of my sonnets with the first containing a whisper of hope and the second being more a comment on an historical event around 1788:

    The Beginning not the End

    Water lapping in that quiet deep place
    Unfortunates stirring in the emporium door
    Concrete and blacktop cover native spoor
    Furtive dark eyes from startled face
    Peer bemused at that urgent race
    That grunts and pulls as it seeks ever more
    From that pristine, untouched distant shore
    I am silent, still, as a city gathers pace
    The bridge, the bustle, about to gush
    White, brown and black for life do claw
    Towards their goals amid the rush
    Of the awakening giant with greedy maw
    Hopes won, hopes dashed in the selfish push
    For understanding, love, amid a curable flaw

    Australia Day [Terra Nullius]

    Webs shimmering in the dewy morning air
    Wisps of smoke from dwindled fires
    Bird calls from leafy lofty spires
    He stands tall lean one legged there
    On rocky headland salt-sprayed bare
    What strange craft on sea swell mires
    The calmness of these homeland shires
    They come these harbingers of despair

    Strange ways and customs do they bring
    Taking anything and all they need
    No talk or bargain was there made
    They must away their death we sing
    Tithing our land with evil greed
    Mysterious arrogant force displayed

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