Collingwood tribes fight to defend their land from destruction
Survival against the odds: the story of the Keppel Islanders

Songs of life


Chants from the great, great Tumbuna
Echoes through the ages a ghostly mantra,
Rousing the hungry hosts of the grave below;
Evoking deep fear when crows begin to crow;
Cutting through his deepest when dusk comes around;
Posing questions that drive him to the ground:
“Come tomorrow, will I be free from fear?
Will there be no more sorrow, and no more tear?”

Charms from the spirits of the cave,
Of which from birth he is bound a slave,
Still ring with the mournful melody
Of casual miracles and constant malady;
The plight of fate of which he has no choice.
The truth remains embalmed in the Tumbuna’s voice:
“The life you live is but a breath;
What you receive, you lose at death.”

Calls from the stream beckon him to a sacred place,
Where he faces a frightfully faceless face;
A face marred by grief, marked by strife;
A figure empty of being, void of life.
He sipped a little from the sacred stream,
And a holy hymn, never before heard, was given him:
“Life is made to be lived, even for a moment;
Life is meant to be loved, even when it’s transient”.

Chants and charms and calls – they ever ring
Through the zephyr that holds his broken wings.
Yet life he lives and love he seeks.
For dreams to be, Tumbuna must speak;
For peace to be, new songs must be written
And old songs must be echoed again and again:
“Today is made from the sweat of yesterday;
When yesterday is laid, songs better our unlived days.”


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Dale Digori

One word - Brilliant!

Lapieh Landu


Ron Kone

Wardley, nice piece mate!

Robin Lillicrapp

Keep up the good work, Wardley. An evocative piece.

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