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
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In the first line of this stanza, the “rider’s heart” seems to refer to a white pastoralist passing by the remnants of the bora ring. The oxymorons “sightless shadow” and “unsaid word” are used to show that the Aboriginal ways of life are obsolete in contemporary Australia. Wright alludes to the biblical story in which Cain murders his brother, Abel in the line “the fear as old as Cain”. This allusion relates to the killing of Aboriginal Australians by the white immigrants. Wright thus portrays the destruction wreaked upon the indigenous Australians by their white brothers and depicts the remorse that many Australians today have for these actions of the past.
Wright organizes the poem in four quatrains, each one sentence in length written over four lines. Wright links ideas across stanzas by using parallel structure. In the first and third stanzas, she lists the lost traditions and rituals of the Aboriginal Australians, one after the other, in a matter of fact tone. The second and fourth stanzas, however, focus on what remains: “grass”, “apple-gums” and a passing “rider”. The repetition of the word “only” at the beginning of these stanzas connects the ideas and poignantly highlights the destruction of a vibrant culture. Although the poem contains no rhyme scheme, it does include a metrical pattern. The first and last lines of each stanza are written in