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TODAY

 AD Hope's Australia

AUSTRALIA
A nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey
In the field uniform of modern wars
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.

They call her a young country, but they lie:
She is the last of lands, the emptiest,
A woman beyond her change of life, a breast
Still tender but within the womb is dry.

Without songs, architecture, history:
The emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
The river of her immense stupidity

Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last the ultimate men arrive
Whose boast is not: 'we live' but 'we survive',
A type who will inhabit the dying earth.

And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state
Where second-hand Europeans pullulate
Timidly on the edge of alien shores.

Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind,
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come,

Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare
Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes
The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes
Which is called civilization over there.


LINKS

http://oldpoetry.com/oauthor/show/a_d_hope

http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/poetry.htm

http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/2166.htm
Good one.

http://www.literatureclassics.com/essays/291/
Asutrralia (Yup, that's what's written. Mr W) is Hope's criticism of general Asutralian society and the country itself. He calls the five capital cities
""five teeming sores,
Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state.""
""Yet there are somne like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought...""
It is interesting to note that AD Hope has both moved around the eastern states a lot, seeinbg the various contrysides, and he lost himself in the namred landscapes of eastern Asutralia in his later years. Australia is a poem of seven stanzas, each stanza consisting of four lines with the Rhyme scheme being ABAB. Little enjambment exists in the poem, most of the stanzas stand alone as paragraphsd. The first five stanzas talk about Asutralia, how it is both a new and old country, geologicallky old but politcally new, and how it is both Erupean colonial and nautally indivual.The next two stanzas talk about the wilderness in the centre of Australia and how if you move away from the population cnetres of he coastal plain you can escape
""...the chatter of cultured apea,
Which is csalle civilisation over there.""
As a poem about Australian society, th main meaning present is how bad it really is. This is quite clear in some of the words of the text: the quotes above show this. Part of his criticism is aimed towards the intellect of the average Asutralian, he calls Asutralia stupid and devoid of culture, he calls Australkians second hand Europeans, and he calls the society cultured apes.
""Without songs, architecture, hsitory;
""The meotions and suoperstions of younger land,""
""The river of her immense stupidity
""Floods hger monotonous tribe...""
""...second-hand Europeans pulluate
""timidly on the edge of alien shores.""

(References to Australia continue below. Mr W.)

Standradisation is one of many poems ever written that condemn the sate of modern society: another poem condemning pollution, mass production, mechanization of the workforce, etc. It also tells us, howevr, of the mass production of Mother Nature: how 'she gathers and repeats the cast of a face, a million butterfly wings.' Essentially though, the poem is still just about showing the faults of modern society. These are the main two meanings you can find in the poem: the evil of society today:
""the house not made with hands...
vacuum cleaners and tinned soup.""
and the warning against 'complete standardization:'
""Anonymous faces plastered with her smile.""
The structure of the poem consists of 10 stanzas of four lines each, with the rhyme scheme being ABAB. The first five stanzas show enjambment: together they tell us about the ills of society. Then a twist, or volta, in the poem occurs: the next five stanzas form the second part of the poem. This next part tells us of the mass production occurring in nature, and then finally the terrible future of complete standardization. The effect of the twist in the poem is to tell us of some of the things wrong with society in the first phase of the poem, and then in the second phase a crescendo builds up every stanza until the final one, which presents us with a 1984 -like picture of everything being the same.
Like most other good poets, AD Hope uses fluent and detailed language in his poems. The reason for this is to allow us to picture what the poet is thinking more clearly, and this allows us to see the meaning that the poets has put into place better. For instance, the descriptive language in
""Huge towns thrust up in synthetic stone,
and films and sleek miraculous motor cars""
paints a picture of one of those modern 'horror cities:' instead of a city being the place where people relax and meet and have fun, it is a place where people work and factories are located. It is a place of concrete buildings and smog.
In that sense, Standardization is much like 1984 - it is a text that is a warning: it is a warning of what could happen. The difference between the two is that 1984 looks at a continuation of governments from the 1948 English Socialism era, while Standardization looks at Australian society in the 50s and 60s.
Reading the poems from a 20th centruy context gives an entirely different meaning than if you read them when they were written. The poem Asutralia makes less sense now that the 'second hand Europeans' are now just a proportion of the melting pot of cultures: multicultural society. Australia has also got a distinct style of art, achitecture and culture that Hope expresses as being non-existent when he writes the poem. Other words of his still count, however, mainly those which talk of the geogarphy of Asutrali, which would take milliions of years to change, not three decades.
Incription for a War is also read differently due to the time between niow and the war itself. As a young adult, I have no knowledge of the Vietnam War other than which was taught to me. Future generations will klnow even less and the poem will not mean much to them. How you read the pioem all depends ion how much you know of the history of that time. For example, people old enopugh to remember that time and even veterans will understand the poem well and recall just how big the fuss was at the time.
Standardization is perhaps the poem that has suffered the most in the thirty or so years since it was written. As a criticism of society, it is very unorginal in its form and meaniung. Since it is so common to see and read rhese criticisms of society, people have been accustomed to them and can condition themselves no to pay much attention to them. Today's public do not mutter much about the conditoion of society, and how houses are not made with hands and tinned soup is readily availiable. The 1984 like picture of 'Standardization' has also gone out of style since the Cold War and the 'threat of Communism.'
In conclkusion, it is interesting to see how much the reading of these three poems have changed since the time they were written. As a poet, AD Hope shows considerable skill in his work, and it is only the twin forces of change and time that have brought about contextual changes in the reading of his work. As far as his critical works go, Hope shows a large amount of scope on his ability to comment on society, its events, and the forces shaping it.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Poems for Sixth FOrm, 1975, F. J. Allsop et. al., McGraw Hill Book Company.
Cross-Country, 1988, John Barnes and Brian McFarlane, Rigby Hienemann.
'Aurtralia loses a literary giant,' 15 July 2000, The West Australian.

 

 

 

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Feel free to access these resources for study purposes or classroom use. However where they have been directly dowloaded for distribution or copied and provided as notes, please acknowledge as a courtesy. John Watson