Summative Blog

What insights has your study of Australian Literature and Art given into the importance of creativity as a part of human experience?


This semester with the subject of Australian Literature, I have furthered my understanding of the importance of the arts and how it can express, explore and argue certain issues and concepts within Australian society. By been taught the works of Judith Wright, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and others; I have been able to develop a new understanding and appreciation of the Indigenous culture and the hardships that they have been faced with over the last two centuries. In particular, with the novel That “Deadman’s Dance” by Kim Scott, it was extremely insightful as we were able to witness the same experience from two very differing perspectives, one being the white Australians and the other the Indigenous. By having the two views alternating throughout the whole novel, it allowed for me to gain a better understanding of the events that did occur in Western Australian in the early settlement and made me feel a sense of shame due to the way the early settlers treated the Indigenous and that there was the potential for both cultures to be able to live among each other in harmony as seen through the character of Doctor Cross. I believe that Doctor Cross was symbolic of the bridge between both cultures but after he dies, the ties connecting the two cultures was destroyed and this was the start of the deterioration of the Indigenous culture because white settlers became materialistic and imperialistic. By reading this works along side with other works, I have realised that due to these works being produced myself and many others would have been able to sympathise with the ordeals of the past and gain a better understanding of the events of the early colonisation of Australia, this highlighting that the creativity of these works are important in understanding human nature.


This unit has made me very aware of how materialistic Australia has been and I feel that it is due to the way that the early settlers wanted Australia to become an artificial England. But further on, in the 19th century Australia begins to gain its own identity as seen with artworks by John Glover but in later works in the 20th century and early 21st artists revert back and show that the Australian society wished to be like England once again. This can be seen in works such as “The expulsion” by Margaret Preston as Preston comments on how self-centered individuals are becoming while there are sub-groups within Australia such as the Indigenous that are still suffering. This shows to me that that art is not only a way for an individual to express themselves but are able to challenge and argue issues with our society. Personally, I now have a new appreciation of art as it allows individual’s to express their own opinions and allow insight into their own perspective of their world, meaning that the creative arts are fundamental in trying to understand human experience.

In all, I have learnt that through the study of Australian Literature and art we are able to view different dimensions of the world and are able to gain a deeper understanding of Australian history and culture as different artists express their own opinions and issues regarding modern day Australian society.


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Peer Review 7

Hi Louise,

I really enjoyed reading your blog! The flow of your poem is very good and it was very easy to read. The line “Death surrounding, screams at each ear” heavily impacted me as it reminded me of the poem, “Nigger’s Leap” by Judith Wright and the film “Apocalypse Now” as your poem reminds me of both suffering and war. The only thing I will comment on is just watch your grammar in your opening paragraph as there was a line or two that i had to reread to understand. Apart from that, wonderful blog.

Week 10, Blog 7

Write a letter to Miss Slattery telling her what you think about the decision she made to leave Szabo.

Dear Miss Slattery,

I believe your decision to leave Mr. Szabo Tibor was the morally correct thing to do. One reason that I think you leaving your friend Szabo was important to your well fare as I saw your relationship as it seemed as if there was no emotional attraction between your two, that it was more a physical. Also I feel you used your friend, Szabo, as your escape from the real world and that when you were at his home, you seemed that you neglected the issues of the present time but once you did leave, you yearned to be back with him to return to this ecstasy of ignoring your mundane lifestyle. I do not blame you for wanting to avoid reality but by doing so you caused yourself more grief than before you met Szabo, ultimately you became lonelier than you ever were.

Also I feel that your and Szabo’s differencing opinion of love did cause there to be a rift in your relationship as you fantasied about being in a healthy relationship and being seen by all your friends as the “lucky” woman as you, in my opinion, are very materialistic. Unlike Szabo’s as he states that love is a connection with two souls becoming one. Not to sound harsh but you, Miss Slattery, represent Australian women and you have portrayed us as women with little dignity and that we jump from man to man which is not what a majority of us women do as we saw from you at the party in Woolloomooloo as you acted out because your friend was there. But in the long run, I am very pleased that you decided to leave him as there was no true connection between the two of us. Your relationship was purely built on lust, no emotional or spiritual attachment.

I wish the best for you in your future,

Riley Powers


Peer View 6

Hi Felicity,

I really enjoyed reading your 1st person perspective of the character’s anger of the Appin Massacre. I’m not sure if this was on purpose but i really liked how the sentence structure of being very blunt and short, this made the tone seem outraged. I feel that the persona is very personal to the insight of the Indigenous Australians which is a pressure to read a post from the time period that there was disgust among the white settlers over this issue. I also like the concept that you place at the end of unity that we all apart of “Human Nature”. Well done on your blog, I really enjoyed reading it!

Week 8, Blog 6

Following along the lines of what I have been discussing above, discuss any of the poems/ prose pieces that we have been looking at this week in terms of how they might be maintaining “the frame and order of the world”?


Over the last few weeks of Australian Literature, we have explored many of 19th century works up to the mid 20th century with authors such as Mary Gilmore, Judith Wright, John Shaw Neilson and others. In particular, in my opinion, Mary Gilmore and John Shaw Neilson have shown in-depth knowledge in regarding the Australian landscape and culture, discussing the order and lifestyle of their world.

Mary Gilmore’s pieces I believe show a unique perspective of women in the 20th century. With her work “Eve Song”, Gilmore discusses the issue of how the way women were stereotyped, treated and portrayed in the early 20th century. The perspective of the lady in the poem highlights the discrimination towards women as they were only perceived as wife and/or mother. Also with Judith Wright’s poem “Eve to Her Daughter”, the theme of women being only portrayed as birth givers particularly in the 8th stanza as she states “you are submissive, following Adam even beyond existence.”. This showing the order of Australian society in the early 20th century but this was the time when art and literature had started to discuss the importance of gender equality; this I believe was the catalyst for change in Australian culture as this was a way to inform and challenge the traditional perspectives of all. Although women’s rights and perceptions didn’t change dramatically throughout the 20th century, I still believe that authors such as Gilmore and Judith Wright were the catalyst for future change.


On the other hand, John Shaw Neilson poetry discusses the spiritual connection of self to the landscape. In the poem, “The Orange Tree”, Neilson portrays two different perspectives of how an individual perceives the landscape as the girl and the man argue about the orange tree. I believe that this is symbolic of the contracting views of the Indigenous Australian’s perspective and the white society’s. Neilson does highlight the lack of understanding through the man’s persona and the frustration of the girl hinting the annoyance of the Indigenous Australians of the white society being so materialistic. This poem does show the way of Australian society and this speaks out that there needs to be a higher level of tolerance and understanding for the Indigenous’ way of life. Even though this was written in the mid 20th century, it is still very relevant to Australian society today.


These authors, in my opinion so far into this subject, do show the lifestyle and order of Australian society in present day though their texts were written much earlier on. And from their works, audience can gain understanding of underlying issues that do occur in Australia.

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Peer Review 5

Hi Rachel,

I completely agree with your post about how lady comes to a bittersweet conclusion in the end of the poem and how the last stanza does show the change of the lady’s thought and opinion. Also your writing style is very good and I like how clear your sentences are and how the sentences flow really well together! It was a pleasure to read. The only thing I will say is I’d like a further discussion on the biblical reference as Gilmore is referring another piece of work with the phrase “Eve span”. But apart from that, I really enjoyed reading your post this week and look forward to reading more of them in the future.

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. (link to the John Hall speech, credits to the BBC) (link to the definition of span) (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 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.

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