A critical analysis of any work of literature examines the work’s form and content to see how well it fulfills the author’s purpose. A. D. Hope’s purpose in his poem “Australia” is to present both the positive and negative aspects of his country.
Let’s take a look at the poem’s form first. It consists of seven stanzas of four lines each. The rhyme scheme is loosely abba, but the poem includes several examples of inexact rhyme, as in the first stanza’s not-quite match of “wars” and “paws” and the third stanza’s “history” and “stupidity.”
Similarly, the poem’s meter is loosely iambic pentameter (five poetic feet per line with an unstressed-stressed alternation), but this, too, varies somewhat and occasionally hiccups a bit. Of course, these variations and skips actually contribute to the poem’s purpose, for Australia, according to the speaker, is far from a perfect country.
In fact, the poet begins his poem on a negative note. Australia, he says, is “A Nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey.” It looks like it is wearing a soldier’s “field uniform.” The country’s hills are dark and stretched out like the paws of a Sphinx. Notice the vivid metaphors here. The speaker uses these throughout the poem to enhance his descriptions, and they are highly interesting and effective.
Australia, he continues, is like a woman past her childbearing years. She is not fruitful. The country lacks much in the way of “songs, architecture, history” and in some ways possesses an “immense stupidity.” The people seem to merely survive instead of live, and the nation’s five cities are like “teeming sores.”
After all this negativity, we wonder if the speaker has anything good to say about his native land. He does, but it is kind of a backhanded complement. He turns “gladly home” to Australia to escape the rest of the world. It’s like going to “The Arabian desert of the human mind” to escape from “modern thought”; yet, he notes that prophets often arise in the desert. There is some hope for Australia yet, and while it is not part of “civilization over there,” it has a spirit of its own.
We can see, then, that Hope successfully fulfills his purpose for this poem. He presents his country of Australia with all its highs and lows.