Poems by Emily Walker (Gumbaynggir, north coastal NSW)
This is the first of a series of articles on Indigenous languages which will be published on the FATSIL website and in the FATSIL Newsletter Voice of the Land.
Poems from the GUMBAYNGGIR language
North coast, New South Wales, Australia
by Emily Walker
Waarrugundi? (Who owns?)
Biway! Yaam gumburr nganyundi
No this spirit mine
not someone else's.
Ya banggi waruungga wajaada: biyagay malanyay
It flies over Earth; does not delay
Ya gurriin-bugany, barranyjinyja nguujuway
It like the wind in the reeds is silent.
Bayigam, garriil-bugany, wurruun balgaarray;
Loving, like an eagle, wings spreads
Jaanybarr darrunday, gurraaday, midinyambay guuyumbay.
Men (it) heals cleanses makes proud empowers.
Jagun, gundi, niigarr biyagay mayungiling Miimiga Wajaarr.
Belonging to homeland, black people don't own Mother Earth
Miimiga Wajaadu mayungiling, nyaagiling niigarr.
Mother Earth owns give birth to black people
Yaam wajaarr, wajaarr jagii, Wajaarr Wanggaan
This land land sacred, Australia (South Land)
Biguurrgarri, giduurr-garri ngayan-bugany
Bearing trees and sand sun-like
Yi Manaynga! Bulmay-bulmay! Wunaa bagulwa, ngaalgirra!
Beware strangers warlike! Don't destroy (and) harm!
Gada-waaling Miimiga Wajaarr.
Almost died has Mother Earth
Wunaa malanyay. Wala biiwayayiw gangaa!
Don't delay. Maybe it will end by and by!
- Emily Walker
No! Nobody can own this spirit of mine,
Soaring over the Earth, wasting no time.
To see, to feel a friend in need,
It's like the whispering of the reeds.
Love can spread like the wings of an eagle!
Healing, cleansing, makes men proud and regal.
Indigenous, the people don't own Mother Earth;
It is Mother earth who owns, who gave birth;
This place, the spiritual land
Of Australia with its trees and golden sand.
So beware invaders! Don't destroy and rape!
Mother Earth is dying. Stop, before it's too late!
- Emily Walker
Note! Because English language is linked to English ways of thinking, and Aboriginal language is linked to Aboriginal ways of thinking, it is never possible to have an "exact" translation. So for instance, "regal" is translated using the word for "elder" because there is no royalty in the Aboriginal world.
All material © 1996 Emily Walker and may not be copied or further distributed without permission of the copyright holder.
The Gumbaynggir Language
The Gumbaynggir language belongs to the people of the north coast region of New South Wales, Australia. Their area extends from the Clarence River near Grafton in the north, west to Guyra and Ben Lomond, and South to Scotts Head.
There are ten fluent speakers of the language, most of whom are assisting in programs to teach the language in the local schools.
For further information about the Gumbaynggir language contact:
Muurbay Aboriginal Language and Cultural Co-op Ltd
465 Bellwood Road
New South Wales 2448