What is the poem "Time is Running Out" by Oodgeroo Noonuccal about, and what is the author challenging in Australian dominant ideology?
This poem is about the mindless destruction of natural landscapes for the resources hidden within them – oil, ore, minerals – all in the greedy name of profit and with no concern for the damage inflicted upon the land, nor upon those living things, humans included, dependent on the land. The first two stanzas speak of a miner, who “rapes/The heart of earth/With his violent spade.” At the beginning of the second verse, the speaker states that, “In his greedy lust for power/He destroys old nature’s will.” Man – specifically the European-Australians – seeks to exert his dominance over the land for his own lusty gain, and impoverishes his own habitat “for the sake of the filthy dollar.” This era of wanton destruction will soon come to an end, however; the speaker asserts that “the Dreamtime folk are massing/To defend their timeless land.”
The Dreamtime folk are the Australian Aborigines, who live in peace with the land and understand the sanctity and importance of all life. Wealth and trade are less important to them than preserving nature as it is, for each living being contributes to the balance of an ecosystem. In the final verse, the speaker appeals to the Aborigines:
Come gentle black man
Show your strength;
Time to take a stand.
Make the violent miner feel
Love of land.
The speaker exhorts the Aborigines to rise up and take violent action against these injustices of the white Australians, their thoughtless destruction of the lands which rightfully belong to the Aborigines. The speaker urges them to protest the evils of big industry and the wasting of natural resources. Blinded by greed, the only way the white miners will be able to see the folly of their ways and the desolate fruit of their industrial ventures is through a violent protest.