Week 7, Blog 5

With reference to Mary Gilmore’s “Eve Song”, what is the meaning and force of the repeated phrase “I span and Eve span”?


The poem “Eve Song” by Dame Mary Gilmore is from the perspective of a woman who feels neglected by her husband and feels she has lost her purpose in life. But in saying that, in the second stanza she has a realization that her children are her legacy and that they are her real purpose in her life “one of us learned in our children’s eyes That more than a man was love and prize.” With this background knowledge of the persona of the mother, the audience can begin to understand the meaning of the forced repetition of “I span and Eve span”.

There are multiple reasons for the repetition of “I span and Eve span” one of which I found out that the phrase “Eve span” by itself is a religious reference to John Hall’s speech in 1381 about the peasant’s revolt. The original quote about Eve span comes from “Adam delved and Eve span”.  With Hall’s speech, he discusses the issues of oppression and how the lower class feel rejected by society. This parallels to the persona of Gilmore’s poem as the woman’s perspective in the poem is almost like an outcry for help as she too feels as if she is stuck in her world and is neglected by husband. So with the reference to “I span and Eve span” could mean that the persona is placing herself in the same position of Eve in the circumstance of being oppressed by higher power.


Also the repetition of “I span and Eve span” could be symbolic for all women as Eve is portrayed often as the mother of mankind. With this, Gilmore isn’t just describing the life of one woman but all women at this time as many were treated poorly almost like second-class citizens. So Gilmore could use the force repetition to enforce the audience of the sterotyping and treatment of women in the 19th century.

With these two ideas of the forced repetition of “I span and Eve span” does indicate to the audience that women in this time did feel almost trapped in their lives. But with the definition of span being “the length of time for which something lasts”, the last stanza does have a hopeful tone to it meaning that this feeling of oppression was starting to change as in Australia, feminism had just become apart of Australian culture.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00x2yp9 (link to the John Hall speech, credits to the BBC)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/span (link to the definition of span)


http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/8481/ (credits to Margaret Preston)




Peer Review 4

Hi Vanessa

firstly I must say you have beautiful writing style and your set up of your blog is very easy to follow and understand. I completely agree with your comments on John Glover’s piece Ullswater early morning and that it does show his appreciation for Australian landscape and that the contrast between the light and dark tones of the scenery does highlight the beauty of the land. Which that style of painting is often found in English Romantic artworks, the comment I would say is I’d link it back to English style of paintings in the 19th century. Apart from that, your blog was a joy to read and keep up the good work!


Peer Review 3


Hi Ngaire,

firstly you explore and explained the context of the poems “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest” and “Bell-Birds” extremely well. I do agree with your comment about the Bell-Birds being a symbol for Kendall’s childhood, I would also add that it also could be a contrast to the meaning of Blue Birds in England as they were often used in children’s nursery rhymes as a motif of tranquility and that Kendall was using the Bell-Birds as a replacement.

The only thing I would recommend is doing a grammar and punctuation check of your writing as there were a few minor errors which weren’t too obvious. I say this from personal experience as I have to do multiple checks.

Apart from that, I really enjoyed your perspective on Harpur and Kendall’s poetry and how you set out your blog with images of the poets separating the paragraphs as it allowed me to see that a new idea was about to be portrayed.

Look forward to reading more of your blogs and keep up the good work!

Week 6, Blog 4

Looking at these two poems describing a natural scene (“A Mid-Summer Noon…” & “Bell-Birds”, say what you think each poet values and how they differ in their appreciation and their expression


With the two poems “A Mid-Summer Noon.in the Australian Forest” by Charles Harpur and “Bell-Birds” by Henry Kendall, they explore the different aspects of the Australian landscape. While both poets describe the joy and beauty of the landscape, both perspectives portray the various ways that the landscape can be interpreted and allow themselves to show their gratitude and appreciation for the landscape as previously in the early days of settlement, the landscape was viewed harshly by the wider audiences such as traditional Englishmen and artists.


In the poem, “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest” Harpur creates a peaceful atmosphere. In my opinion the silence of the environment is symbolic of Harpur’s awe and respect of the landscape as he states in the first stanza that “even the busy ants are found Resting”. The idea of everything being tranquil allows the audience to see the landscape from Harpur’s perspective. But in the second stanza, Harpur changes the pace of the poem as he completely focuses on one element of the environment, the Dragon-Hornet and describes it as majestic. This description of the beetle is very similar to the way Kendall illustrates the landscape on a whole. With Kendall’s description of the landscape in “Bell-Birds”, his tone seems to yearn to return to this environment as he reminisces of his childhood of being able to lose himself in the environment. Unlike Harpur’s second stanza only focuses on a single element of the environment, Kendall illustrates the excitement and energy of the Australian landscape as a whole with particular references to the sound of the bell-birds.


I do find these poems beautifully written but I believe that the poets over exaggerate the certain parts of the environment as Harpur states unrealistically that the environment is silent and also with Kendall’s description in the second stanza with statements such as “the thunder-bolts hurdle, They hide with their fear in the leaves”. Personally, I really appreciate their love for the Australian landscape but because their descriptions are so over the top, I find their works almost ironic because of the poets’ selection of the language that they use to describe the environment. With statements such as “Till rising in the sunshine higher, Its shards flame out like gems on fire” from A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest and “Struggles the light that is love to the flowers” from Bell-birds show that both the poets use very descriptive personification to show their appreciation for the landscape and that the language that is used is not completely unrealistic but it so drawn out from the truth.

Image from https://wangiwriter.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/the-australian-bush-calls/




Week 5, Blog 3

Give a short description of one of the Australian paintings currently hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW and explore the ways in which it illuminates at least one literary theme and/or method explored in Australian Literature studied this semester.


One of artworks that stood out to me at the NSW Art Gallery this week was Russell Drysdale’s 1953 work “A group of Aborigines” as I believe it has an underlying message regarding on how modern day Australia was established as well as highlighting the issue of segregation of cultures; which we have explored during the course of Australian Literature. The artwork consists of a group of 6 Indigenous Australians standing together as a group dressed in workmen like clothes and bare feet; painted in natural earth tones of colour. The clothing is symbolic as it is representing that the indigenous were slowly being forced into Australian society but due to the lack of shoes it indicates that they are still able to hold onto their culture. This lack of shoes is also shown in That Deadman Dance with Bobby, which I believe is symbolic of the indigenous still being connected to their culture as in the Dreaming the earth is always portrayed as a mother figure to the Indigenous.

The colour choices of this work does show also that Drysdale was trying to incorporate both his own culture with the indigenous in a way that almost conveys the wider Australian society being united under one identity. This idea of a single united culture of Australia was also portrayed very early on in That Deadman Dance by Bobby but it wasn’t as strong portrayed as in “A group of Aborigines” but Bobby does hint at a similar idea more of a brotherhood between cultures. This can be seen in the relationship between Bobby and Doctor Cross.

Drysdale’s other works such as “Station boys” 1953 and “Shopping Day” 1953 both do explore similar ideas but I personally believe that the work “Group of Aborigines” holds a stronger message in regarding the relationship between cultures and how there is an underlying prejudice towards both cultures. The artist is able to convey the issue very well even though it is addressed subtly.


Picture of the work can be seen at http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/44.2003/

Peer Review 2


Hi Louise,
I do agree with your discussion of Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s importance in Australian Literature as she was an important figure during the 1980’s with her poetry. The only comment I will say about your blog is that your quote from No More Boomerang needs to be a little more clearer as i had to re-read the sentence to understand your concept. Either drop to a new line or have a break after the end of the quote.

Apart from that, very nice piece to read and keep up the good work!