Pigeon/Jundamurra
My name is Officer O'Malley
My job is hunting Pigeon down
I don't like this kind of work much
I'm sick of sleeping on the ground
Pigeon - that's the name we gave him
Pigeon used to be so tame
'Til one day he turned against his master
Killed him, broke his brother's chains
Now Pigeon could track the Holy Spirit
But he don't leave no tracks at all
I've been running 'round in circles
I've been feeling like a fool
Pigeon - that's the name we gave him
But he's got another name
It's spreading all across the valleys
Jundamurra! - like a burning flame
One time we had him in a gully
One time we had him in a cave
Each time we closed in on our quarry
He disappeared like smoke into a haze
Pigeon - that's the name we gave him
Pigeion - putting me to shame
I do this job because I have to
I don't say that he's to blame
Jundamurra! - how I hate that name




The poem ‘Pigeon’ is about the leader of the Kimberley Jundamurra people, known as Pigeon, who led the resistance against the white settlers to that region. Pigeon was regarded as an outlaw, and the poem focuses on the Aboriginal tracker who was hired to capture him. Pigeon was captured and killed in 1897 after a long time on the run.
Paul Kelly has stated that he wrote the poem ‘Pigeon’ to highlight and inform people about Aboriginal issues and rights. In an article from the Herald on the 22/09/89, Paul Kelly says that “there has been a lack in our education and white Australia has really ignored Aboriginal culture and history to its detriment.”
The poem has a predominantly serious and angry mood, as it describes Officer O’Malley’s struggle when trying to capture Pigeon. This mood remains constant through the poem.
It appears that Paul Kelly seems to be proud of Pigeon for breaking away and not being able to be caught for a long time.
The poem made me feel angry at what white people made Pigeon and his people go through, and sad because of the struggle that he would have had to go through to protect them.
Paul Kelly does succeed in conveying his emotions. He relates the struggle that the tracker had in capturing pigeon very well.
The simile “Jundamurra! - like a burning flame” makes Pigeon seem like a person who is a light and showing the way for his people. “Feeling like a fool” describes Officer O’Malley’s frustration at not being able to capture Pigeon.
The use of alliteration in the line “I’ve been feeling like a fool” makes it stand out to the reader. Assonance is used in the lines;
“One time we had him in a gully
One time we had him in a cave
Each time we closed in on our quarry
He disappeared like smoke into a haze”
These lines describe how good Pigeon was at avoiding capture.
Rhyming is used in the poem to emphasize lines, especially near the end of the poem in the lines;
“Pigeon - putting me to shame
I do this job because I have to
I don't say that he's to blame
Jundamurra! - how I hate that name”
This poem is structured as a lyrical poem, or ode, it consists of three verses and is intended as a song.

Sam Laing