Publisher's synopsis

Collection of poems in English with translations into Putonghua (modern standard Chinese) on Chinese and Australian themes; includes Noonucal traditional stories, also translated.

HSC Board of Studies: poems by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (PDF)


The trip to China in September and October of 1984 was like seeing a great work of art. It opened our eyes. We were all very excited. We were all like human beings who had fallen in love at first sight. China meant different things to each member of our party of five. To Dr. Eric Tan it was a chance to expand his vast knowledge of Chinese painting from the earliest times to the present day. To Caroline Launitz—Schurer, our capable and loveable leader, it was a revelation. To Robert Adams, our comforter, it was a confirmation of what he believed, namely the role of culture in widening the horizons of people. To me it was the renewal of a hope I had entertained ever since my undergraduate days in Melbourne that humanity had a capacity for better things.

To Kath Walker it was something more. China worked a great miracle in her. She had not written any poetry for years. Within forty-eight hours of arriving in Shanghai a light began to shine in her eyes. She began to sparkle: she bubbled with excitement. I remember the morning she said to me with an engaging twinkle in her eye: ‘Manning, I’m pregnant again’. She meant she had started to write poems again. From that time until we left China to return to the glitter and the tinsel of Hong Kong, and the consumer goods extravaganza of Sydney she would say to us almost every morning at breakfast: ‘I’ve got another one’.

This volume of poetry is the fruit of her labour in China. It is a continuation of the themes which inform all her poetry—the wrongs the white people committed against her people, and her longing for a world in which those cruelties and barbarisms have disappeared off the face of the earth.

Kath Walker is a great human being. Judith Wright was so moved by her talks with Kath Walker that she wrote a moving poem to express her feelings about the Aborigines of Australia and the wrong committed against them by the white man. These poems about China testify to the wisdom of Judith Wright’s judgement. They convey the excitement and the enthusiasm of one member of a party of Australians who were lucky enough to see a society which had a faith. Perhaps that was why Kath Walker was so moved by China. She, too, has a faith—her faith in the wisdom and the strength of her own people.

– Manning Clark