The Keynote of Australia’s Destiny
This is the keynote of her destiny —
To fashion grand ideals, sound, and free
From all the taints of narrowness, the curse
That fits a nation for a nation’s hearse!
Let her beware! The bravest land of all
Beneath the foes of Liberty might fall.
Beware (the base beginnings are enough!)
Lest politicians made of lowly stuff
Her hope shall bind in chains of arrogance,
Till naught may prove for its deliverance!
Let not a nation’s boasted liberty
Become the sport of base authority!
In olden times thus Greece and Rome were ruled —
Her politicians must be modern-schooled
And scout these ancient systems, long decayed,
Or Austral glory like a flower shall fade!
To make her politics a noble creed
A prophet-patriot is now the need,
Who’ll first tear off those shackles that would bind
All loftiness to please the lowly mind!
Democracy in truth she must require —
Ev’n destiny is ruled by rash desire —
Yea, men with lofty minds, whose high intent
Is eke as broad as is this continent!
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 73
Austral = of or relating to Australia or Australasia; Australian, Australasian; an abbreviation of Australia, Australian, Australasia, Australasian; in a wider context, of or relating to the southern hemisphere; southern, especially a southern wind
base = ignoble, lacking decent moral values, lacking good personal qualities, lacking honour; contemptible; cowardly; dishonest; infamous; selfish; corrupt, evil, terrible; regarding someone from a low socio-economic class, of or relating to a peasant; born outside of marriage; born as a slave; coinage not made from valuable metal or having a low proportion of valuable metal; counterfeit; lacking value, of inferior quality or worth, worthless
eke = make something last longer by using it frugally (e.g. food, finances); to lengthen, prolong; to enlarge, increase; to obtain enough resources (especially money) so as to allow one to go on living (such as used in the common phrase “to eke out a living”); (archaic) also, moreover; in addition
ev’n = (vernacular) even
naught = nothing; zero; failure, without result; lost, ruined (older meanings are: ruined, useless, worthless; morally bad, wicked)
yea = yes; indeed; truly; an affirmation (especially an affirmative vote), an indication of assent