“Time is Running Out” by Oodgeroo Noonuccal: Short Summary

1 January 2018

“Time is Running Out” is written by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, an author and politician who is most commonly lauded as the first Aboriginal poet to publish a collection of verse. She is also an active campaigner for Aboriginal civil rights. The theme of many of her works is the hope for understanding and peace between black and white Australians. In “Time is Running Out”, Oodgeroo expresses her criticism towards the irresponsible miners who exploited and violently destructed her land “[f]or the sake of greedy trade” and “[f]or the sake of the filthy dollar” (5, 13). Moreover, she also encourages the native Australians to fight back and stand up to protect their land. The poem consists of three stanzas and there are no set meter or rhyme scenes in this poem although there are lines that rhyme. Oodgeroo represents this poem using visual imagery. Throughout the poem, Oodgeroo uses many vivid metaphors and hyperbole which make us clearly feel the anger and bitterness in her tone. The first stanza illustrates how the miners extract oil and minerals from the earth using various mining equipments:

  • The miner rapes
  • The heart of earth
  • With his violent spade
  • Stealing, bottling her black blood
  • For the sake of greedy trade.

The first three lines contain of enjambments which somehow reflect the still ongoing memories of the poet. “The miner rapes / The heart of earth” (1, 2) is a metaphor for the excessive mining activity that is happening in Oodgeroo’s land. “The heart of earth” is a personification for natural resources. The fourth line in stanza 1, “Stealing, bottling her black blood” (4) using the personification word “her” to addresses the earth. “Black blood” here can only refer to oil, as oil is black coloured liquid that extracted from the earth, and the word “blood” itself literally relate to the internal liquid in human body. Thus, “Stealing, bottling her black blood” is a metaphor for the petroleum oil drilling activity.Notice the alliteration used in that line in which the harsh ‘b’ sounds in “bottling her black blood” (4) emphasize this point and reinforce the agony of the stanza’s tone. In this stanza, Oodgeroo also mentions that the miner “[p]iling the mountainous minerals high / On his metal throne of destruction” (8, 6). The word “mountainous” is a hyperbole and refers to the act of excessive mining activity.

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