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An elegy for an ended war & an uneasy peace

The resplendent rugged terrain of Oro does not easily reveal the stories of those ragged bloody heroes, foreign and local alike, who trudged across this landscape 80 years ago

Bablis - beach of peace

| Ples Singsing - A PNG Writer's Blog

GORARI ORO - I wrote this poem sitting in my house in the middle of Gorari village thinking about this beautiful land that is steeped in the history of World War II as well as its own traditional history.

The title of the poem, 'Oro to This Place of War and Peace', points to Oro as knowing war and continuing to know it through its lingering effects and consequent materiality even in this time of peace.

One can read and analyse the dichotomy of war and peace, and of life and death, in the life, culture and landscape of this place.

Some of the contradictions are clear in the poem. For instance, the role of Papuans and New Guineans who worked as medical orderlies and carriers/carers juxtaposed against those who fought as soldiers.

The majestic mountain range named after Owen Stanley conceal some of these callous contradictions.

The resplendent rugged terrain does not easily reveal the stories of those ragged bloody heroes, foreign and local alike, who trudged across this landscape 80 years ago.

Bablis - Japanese barges derelict on the sands of Sanananda
After the battle - derelict Japanese barges lie derelict on the sands of Sanananda (Australian War Memorial)
Gregory Bablis

Oro to This Place of War and Peace

Oro da
Oro da
Oro da Biage
Oro da Kaiva
Welcome to this place
Welcome to this place
Welcome to this place of the Biage
Welcome to this place of the Kaiva
Oro means welcome
Da means place
Oro, Oro, Oro
Coming from a smiling face

Greetings for strangers and kin
And for you and me
This is no awful din
But jovial camaraderie

From Eora, Alola, Isurava, Kokoda
To Hoi, Sengi, Oivi and Gorari
Kovelo to Kamando
Sisireta to Popondetta
Oro, Oro, Oro

The place of flying monarchs
And wingless angels
The bird-sized butterfly
And ghosts who walked

Our very own Los Angeles
Home of Michelangelo and Raphael
Messengers and labourers
Fuzzy Wuzzies on bush tracks
Carers and soldiers
Papuans and New Guineans
All shades of black

Bloody be Buna
Gona got gone
Shattered seashores Sanananda saw
Enough had everyone at Endaiadere

Bablis - drums of oroWelcome to this place
Of grass skirts and tapa
A place of people
From Binandere to Kaiva
Of warriors and chiefs
Sorcerers and martyrs
Men and women
From Hunjara and Kaina

A place of love
A place of peace
A place of war
A place of life
A place of death
Ended lives
Beginning of life,
After life.


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Lindsay F Bond

Ebei, Eiwo, places once of flight
Waju, Waseta, places too of fight
Sairope, Saiho, of crossing Kumusi
Isivita, Sasembata, bringing of light
Oro, Oro, Oro
Thank you Gregory.

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