Bora Ring By Judith Wright as an Elegy
“Bora Ring” is a poem written by Judith Wright, which is considered an elegy for the Aboriginal culture and people who were displaced by colonialism in Australia. The poem uses various poetic techniques to convey the sense of loss and mourning for a culture that was once vibrant and thriving.
The title itself, “Bora Ring,” refers to a sacred site used by Aboriginal people for initiation ceremonies and other important rituals. The use of this title immediately sets the tone for the elegiac nature of the poem, as it evokes a sense of nostalgia and loss for a culture that has been destroyed. . However, as the poem makes clear, this ring has been abandoned and forgotten, and the landscape has been drastically altered by the presence of white settlers.
The poem begins with the image of the bora ring as a place where “the black boys play[ed]”. The use of the past tense immediately signals that this is a world that no longer exists. The speaker then goes on to describe the natural world that surrounded the bora ring, with “the river’s song, the timber-cutters’ hymn, the stockman’s oath” all contributing to the soundscape of the place.
The elegiac nature of the poem is further emphasized by the repetition of the phrase “and the black boys play”. This phrase is repeated several times throughout the poem, creating a haunting refrain that evokes a sense of loss and nostalgia.
Throughout the poem, Wright uses vivid imagery and sensory details to evoke a sense of loss and mourning. For example, she describes the “ring of faintest blue” that can still be seen in the grass where the Bora Ring once stood, and the “creek’s healing rushes” that have grown over the “old path” leading to the site.
The final stanza of the poem is particularly poignant, as the speaker describes the bora ring as “empty” and “silent”. The sense of absence and loss is palpable, as the speaker mourns for a culture that has been destroyed and for the people who once lived and thrived in this place. In the final stanza, Wright shifts from describing the physical landscape to reflecting on the deeper cultural significance of the Bora Ring. She writes, “Who will dance there now? No one.” This line suggests that the loss of the Bora Ring is not just a physical loss, but a loss of tradition, community, and cultural identity.
The poem also uses repetition and parallel structure to reinforce its elegiac tone. The opening lines repeat the phrase “The song is gone” three times, emphasizing the finality of the loss. Later in the poem, the line “Nothing is left of the Bora Ring” is repeated twice, emphasizing the extent of the destruction.