In his poem “Botany Bay,” Omar Sakr explores the complexity of Australian identity through details about the beach setting. Along with describing the physical environment on the shore of the bay, the speaker comments on the historical significance of the setting in relationship to British colonial heritage. In addition, the speaker mentions ways that physical features of the natural environment connected with cultural features attached to the people who are on the beach that day. Among the poetic devices that Sakr uses are allusion, metaphor, and personification.
Overall, multiple dimensions of identity connected with setting are conveyed by the men facing East while they pray, which may indicate Muslim faith. In addition, the people walking with banh mi, Vietnamese food, are contrasted with the Middle Eastern food items spread out.
In both the title and the mention of Captain Cook’s museum, Sakr uses allusion, which is reference to people, places, and events from contemporary life, history, or literature. Botany Bay is the location where the British explorer Captain James Cook arrived in 1770, beginning the process that led to centuries of British colonial rule. Cook’s importance is alluded to by the fact that a museum is devoted to him.
Metaphor is the direct comparison of unlike things for effect. The line “blankets anchor double dates on the green” uses “anchor” as a metaphor, evoking the sea-side setting, but meaning that the blanket serves to hold a space on the grass.
Personification is the attribution of human qualities to animals, things, or concepts. The speaker attributes human qualities to the sky, speaking of the “hijabbed sky” to indicate that it is covered as if with a Muslim woman’s headcovering. Similarly, “footprinted” is used to describe the clouds in the sky.