TASK: With reference to Bernard O’Dowd’s “Australia”, what predictions does the poem have for our future? Have these predictions been realized?
Bernard O’Dowd’s poem, “Australia”, predicts an uncertain future for us and he clearly expresses his uncertainty throughout the poem. He says that he isn’t sure what the point of this newly discovered country is and what its purpose is. He spends the first stanza trying to decide whether this country is a good thing or a bad thing. He asks “Are you a drift Sargasso… or Delos of a coming Sun-God’s race? Are you for light… or but a Will o’Wisp on marshy quest?” A new demense for Mammon to infest? Or lurks millennial Eden ‘neath your face?” These rhetorical questions show how insistently he is questioning this new country’s purpose and how dearly he wants to know the answer.
In the last couple lines of the first stanza, O’Dowd asks if this new country is, “A new demense for Mammon to infest? Or lurks millennial Eden ‘neath your face?”. He asks if this new land is just another breeding ground for lust and greed for money and financial gain or if this new land will be more like the Garden of Eden and be a perfect sanctuary for mankind to live in harmony with God, just as Adam and Eve did. In this sense, his predictions have been realised. As time has gone on, new factories and industries have been established in Australia and trade with other countries has also been introduced. This has both made a profit for the country, yet has also allowed money-hungry people to come in and exploit the country for the own private gain so yes, one could argue that O’Dowd’s prediction, in this sense, has come true.