Poem Hunter
Rabbit Proof Fence
DK (1951 / UK)

Rabbit Proof Fence

Poem By David Keig

There are two Australian fences I'd like to talk about
One runs from the north down to the south to keep the rabbits out
The other is invisible - it's in Australian's minds
It’s a blinkered view of what it is to be part of humankind.

When Australia was first was colonised some two hundred years ago
The colonists they formed a view so that they could go
And claim each piece of land they found and make it for their own
Paying no respect or honour to those who had in this country grown
They stole this land directly from the Aborigines
Regarding them as savages without any dignity
Their currency was alcohol, diseased blankets and the gun
And they cleared this whole damn country fast once this clearing had begun.

They called it Terra Nullis to justify their gains
And they then gave Aborigines European sounding names
They would take all of their children and put them into homes
Of good god fearing people who would take them as their own
The aim of this was clearly born of a harsh philosophy
You cannot steal from people who have no identity
This form of cultural cleansing was fundamental to this land
And these stolen generations are now trying to understand
What it was was taken from their culture in the past
And what can now be full regained in a way that will long last.

Hundreds of their languages are now only spoken by a few
Traditions and communities need to begin anew
If the lie of Terra Nullis is to be rightfully exposed
And Australia's real history is to be more fully clothed
It's time to say we're sorry not just to say it's not our fault
If we don't understand this history then we're selling ourselves short
Of a magic in this country that sets it full apart
Of a land that has all peoples beating strongly in its heart.

The rabbits they were introduced to make Australia seem
More like the England left behind and part of that vain dream
Was to make this sunburnt country something that it never could
Be or even slow become and it's now clear that no good
Will ever come if fences stay - for Australia shall find
That as a fence cannot be rabbit proof nor can a state of mind.

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Comments (1)

rabbit proof fence was a great movie, and you, dear sir, are a great poet