Poetry

looked after.jpg

The Aboriginal Mother and other poems

Eliza Hamilton Dunlop

1981

Eliza Hamilton Dunlop was raised by her paternal grandmother in Ireland. She migrated to Australia with 2nd husband, Duncan Dunlop in 1838. By the time she was in her teens, Eliza Hamilton Dunlop was already a published poet.

Her lament, “The Aboriginal Mother”—published in The Australian on 13 December 1838—was provoked by her outrage at the Myall Creek massacre. On 10 June 1838, around 28 (the total death toll was never established) Wirrayaraay people were slaughtered at Myall Creek Station in NSW. Seven men were publicly hanged for the massacre on 18 December 1838.

Unsurprisingly, there was more anger at the execution of British citizens than there was at the slaughter of Wirrayaraay people. But Dunlop was astonished at the backlash against her and her poem. Although she continued to have her poetry published in colonial newspapers, her work was largely neglect after her death in 1880.