In the poem “Australia,” the poet A. D. Hope describes his very negative views of his home country. In the first stanza, the poet likens Australia to trees, which are “drab green and desolate grey,” indicating that he finds Australia very dull. He likens Australia to the Sphinx, using the words “demolished” and “worn away”: Australia has nothing left to offer and is broken.
In the second stanza, the poet continues to write how he feels that Australia is old and empty: “she is the last of lands, the emptiest.” The third stanza elaborates even more on this theme, and the poet now explicitly states how Australia is culturally void “without songs, architecture, history.” He even goes so far as to say that Australia is stupid.
The fourth stanza continues to describe Australia as a bland and boring country, with “monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth”—a clear criticism of some of Australia’s major cities. To the poet, living there is not an enjoyment, as people just cope and make do rather than live life to the full. They don’t “live”; they merely “survive.”
The fifth stanza is even more critical of Australia’s cities: the poet calls them “sores.” He likens Australia to a parasite who “drains” everything. The expression “second hand Europeans” clearly shows the poet’s view that Australians are a bad copy of Europeans rather than a nation of their own right. One could even interpret this as a criticism of Australia’s colonial past: from this perspective, Australians are the “parasites.” To the poet, Australians are merely Europeans who took over, and drained and destroyed a country that wasn’t theirs. By calling Australians “second hand Europeans” as opposed to Australians, the poet makes it clear that he feels that they don’t belong there.
The sixth stanza appears a little bit more positive, as the poet expresses some hope with the phrase“if still from the deserts the prophets come.” This hope for improvement, however, is then shattered in the last stanza, when the poet questions whether Australia can even be called a civilization: he refers to the Australian people as “cultured apes”.