To-day I re-post with some minor amendment, some thoughts on AUSTRALIA DAY which I posted last year. Since our readers come from many corners of the globe , it seems appropriate that they should know something about the Country that has nurtured this Blogger, the product of Irish, German and English ancestry, and his feelings and beliefs about it.
"CORE OF MY HEART, MY COUNTRY"
To-day is Australia Day! I thank God for bringing me to Conception and Birth in this remarkable Country.
Not the most beautiful country in the world, not the strongest country in the world, not the leading country in the world. You can have all that.
My Country is a place of real freedom, of real peace, of frank and trustworthy folk, whose friendship isn't feigned. An open, generally trusting people who are nevertheless not too easily fooled. They abhor pretension and if they have a fault it is a desire to ensure that no-one rises too high - it is called the "tall poppy syndrome" - tall poppies get cut down to size!
|AUSTRALIANS GATHERED AT ANZAC COVE GALLIPOLI - LEST WE FORGET|
Australians are a pragmatic people, no doubt a product of the sometimes harsh extremes of weather, and the lack of almost everything except land in early colonial days. As a result public discourse is not big on principles, but more on what will work. Our political system and legal system are born out of our English colonial origins. Our independence was sought and given, rather than fought for and won. We remain a constitutional monarchy, with the British Monarch as our Head of State, but our pragmatic nature makes the majority of Australians see that we are really and factually independent and advocate of a Republic have been unable to gain traction. The system works, the pragmatists don't need to fix it.
Politically, we are fairly evenly divided between political Conservatives and a Labor based group. The latter have a fragile balance of power in the Federal sphere at present, but seem certain to be rolled out of office at the next election. There is an underlying small "c" conservatism in the Australian psyche, which, combined with pragmatism, kills off such ideas as a Republic, identity cards, or anything that excites modern radicals.
One of the best summaries of Australia, the land, is contained in Dorothea Mackellar's 1904 poem "My Country”. It is a fine piece of work, addressed to many of the British citizens of Australia who, at the time it was written, would still speak of "home" and mean England! So it begins:
"The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens,
Is running in your veins.......................
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains............
Her beauty and her terror,
The wide brown land for me!
An opal - hearted country,
A willful lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand,
Though Earth holds many splendors,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly!
AMEN to that!
Yet another lady, this time English - born Caroline Carleton, wrote in 1859 the Song of Australia which was set to music by the German Carl Linger. It won a competition sponsored by the South Australian Gawler Institute for a patriotic song. It also has things to say, which merit attention, despite some of the flourishes of its time. It begins:
"There is a land where summer skies
Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies;
And grassy knoll, and forest height,
Are flushing in the rosy light,
And all above in azure bright-
|BOUNTEOUS CROP IN WAKE OF DROUGHT BREAKING RAIN|
On hill and plain the clust'ring vine
Is gushing out with purple wine,
And cups are quaffed to thee and thine-
There is a land, where floating free,
From mountain top to girdling sea,
A proud flag waves exultingly,
And freedom’s sons the banner bear,
No shackled slave can breathe the air,
Fairest of Britain's daughters fair,
I love it! - Australia, Yes - But the Song of Australia too! Oh, I know it's more than a little over the top! But it has the spirit of my country. And any lady who can write about "gushing out with purple wine and cups are quaffed to thee and thine" has got my vote!
There is another patriotic song by Father Maurice Reilly C.M. Which is more subtle and substantive, which I also love, and which I first heard in First Class at my Convent School in 1946:
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL HYMN
God bless our lovely morning land!
God keep her with enfolding hand
Close to His side.
While booms the distant battle's roar
From out some rude, barbaric shore.
In blessed peace forever more,
There to abide.
Land of the dawning! Lo! At last,
The shadows of the night are past;
Across the sea,
Is spreading far the purple light,
The lonely mountain peaks are bright,
And visions crowd upon the sight,
Of days to be.
|"THE WARM OF HEART AND STOUT OF HAND"|
CREW OF HMAS PERTH - LOST IN THE BATTLE OF SUNDA STRAIT
DEFENDING AUSTRALIA FROM THE EMPIRE OF JAPAN
The future is thine own, loved land,
The warm of heart, the stout of hand,
The noble mind,
Shall build a Nation truly great,
With Christ for King; where love not hate,
Shall be the charter of the State
To all mankind.
There is much more, all warm with faith in God and belief in Australia's promise.
|PATRONISING ENGLISH VIEW AT THE TIME OF FEDERATION !|
THE AUSTRALIAN COMMENTS MIGHT HAVE SURPRISED THE CARTOONIST AND EDITOR
In fact, at the time of Federation there was a widespread confidence in Australia's unique character and mission to show the world a new way of true freedom and peace and justice for all. It was a heady idealism, which sadly seemed to be overwhelmed by the tragedy of the First World War, the Great Depression, and the crusade of the Second World War. It still survives in wisps of spirit which are caught here and there. But is largely lost to the national consciousness.
Let's not get too analytical - it is a day for Fair Dinkum CELEBRATION. With a very great deal to celebrate! We can save the “cerebration" for another day!
And so off to a Movie with my dear wife - “AUSTRALIA!” as Caroline Carleton would have exclaimed.