Kath Walker aka Oodgeroo Noonuccal

I fell in love with Kath Walker, as she was known then, in my teens and bought her book of poems, My people. I loved her passion for her people and the intensity but accessibility of her poems. Every now and then I look at them again. Today, however, my mum gave me a dear little illustrated book produced by the National Library of Australia called Little book of dogs. It contains a small selection of Australian poems on, well, dogs. One of them was also in My people, and is called “Freedom”. It’s a powerful little poem about man’s (and the implication is white man’s) desire to tame “all things wild and tameless”.

Brumbies on the run in Central Australia

Brumbies on the run in Central Australia

For copyright reasons I don’t believe I can quote the whole poem – it only has four verses – but here is the first verse:

Brumby on the wild plain
All men out to break you,
My warm fellow-feeling
Hopes they never take you!

Simple stuff really but, if you have a message you must get across to as many people as possible, simple is sometimes best.

4 thoughts on “Kath Walker aka Oodgeroo Noonuccal

  1. We’ve got a lovely picture book by KW/Oodgeroo Noonuccal at school, Father Sky and Mother Earth, but that’s all I know of her work, an omission I’d like to rectify. Is there a particular anthology you would suggest, Sue?

    • Oh, I’m probably not the best person to ask because I didn’t keep up with the latter part of her life, but the anthology “My people” (published in 1970) combines works from two earlier collections, one being “We are going” (of which the title poem is moving too) It’s emotional stuff but I like it. There was a lovely documentary made about her which I bought for the Film Collection at the NLA way back when – it’s called Shadow sister. have no idea whether it is still around but it would be worth seeing. I notice that the Wikipedia article doesn’t mention it so am going to rectify that now.

      I remember that children’s book coming out but I don’t have it.

  2. Freedom is my favourite poem, from childhood.

    by Kath Walker

    Brumby on the wide plain
    All men out to break you
    My warm fellow-feeling
    Hopes they never take you

    Dingo on the lone ridge
    Fleeing as you spy them
    Every hand against you
    May you still defy them

    All things wild and tameless
    Hunted down and hated
    Something in my wild heart
    With your own is mated

    Dingo, wild bushranger
    Brumby that they ban so
    May you still outmatch them
    May you foil the man foe!

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