"A Righteous Day" by Mudrooroo Nyroongah

Essay by YoakimA+, March 2007

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'A Righteous Day' written by Mudrooroo Nyroongah on 26TH January (Australia Day), in 1988, is a poem set in the first person voice that has been composed in response to the depressing day of the Bicentenary of European Settlement. As the "righteous" day is reflected by the persona, this contrasts with the 'White' Australians celebrating a "successful" colonisation in high-spirited ways, because to the Aborigines it is a day of mourning as they view it as Invasion day. The poem underlines the fact that despite the hardships Aborigines have experienced as a result of White Colonisation, it would be ideal if they shifted from prisoners of society to proactive citizens of Australia who will stand tall with pride and win their internal battles in the face of adversity.

The beginning of the poem is rather ambiguous as it includes the persona's view on modern and new, yet quite useless, materialistic items.

The first two lines suggests that the persona has spent a "lifetime" until now, assimilating with the white man's foreign and materialistic world of insignificant and 'useful' materials in life. He questions whether these new "inventions" are a necessity in life, where he views these as just an indication of the white man's senseless 'progress' and 'success'. The third line, which uses the strong imagery "Protecting my wrists from the slashes of insecurities", is the reason for the persona's attempt in fitting into a foreign culture, as he desires to preserve his life and to survive, despite possessing nothing but insecurities. The phrase also refers to the stereotypical Aboriginal culture where many have attempted suicide especially among young males, because they have felt useless as they have been degraded to the point where they have been deprived of their dignity and self-worth.

In lines 4-6, he emphasizes the...