Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’ is a poem expressing Mackellar’s deep passion and love for her country, Australia. The whole poem’s intention seems to evoke the sense of praising for the country and express Mackellar’s deep relationship and passion with her land. Mackellar attains this response from the audience by using numerous language techniques such as; Juxtaposition, personification, sound patterns including alliteration and assonance, imagery, and paradox. The use of first person throughout the whole poem suggests that the theme of this poem has been evoked by personal experience.
Mackellar introduces the idea of Australia’s distinctiveness firstly in the opening two stanzas, by juxtoposising Australia’s wild landscape compared to England’s tame landscape. England’s landscape is described as with ‘grey-blue distance, brown streams and soft, dim skies. Whereas Australia’s landscape is depicted as ‘a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains’. This characterization of the two countries imply that the poems persona believes that Australia’s this wildness makes it beautiful and incomparable to England’s landscape, which is the completely opposite.
From ‘I love a sunburnt country’, which introduces the following stanza on Australia, Mackellar begins evoking the idea of Australia not just being a lifeless piece of land but equivalent and sharing similar characteristics of a person. This idea is presented through personification by referring to the land as she or her: ‘I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, and’ -‘for flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold’. By applying this technique Mackellar is able to express how deep her relationship and passion for her land actually is.
To evoke the sense of the praising of the country and also to convey a clear awareness of the theme, Mackellar applies sound patterns including alliteration and assonance. The phrase: ‘For flood and fire and famine… ’ is an example of alliteration to emphasize the relentlessness of these trials that characterizes rural Australia. Imagery is used consistently right through the poem to evoke sensory experiences and to endorse the theme. For instance: ‘A stark white ring-barked forest’-‘the sapphire misted mountains’-‘the hot gold lush of noon’ and many more.
All of these appeal to the readers senses and places brilliant visual image(s) in our minds by illuminating the various features of the country, from the perspective of the poems persona. This is attained using; adjectives, ‘the sapphire-misted mountains¬¬¬’, which gives us a picture of mountains with a bluish haze embracing it, this image would thus give an impression of a composed environment and evoke a sense of tranquillity. Additionally by using ‘sapphire’ to illustrate the mist surrounding the mountains we get a sense of Australia’s uniqueness as sapphire is a rare gem.
Imagery is also displayed through a metaphor used to appeal to the sense of hearing. For example: ‘the drumming of an army, the steady soaking rain’. Here Mackellar depicts the rain as an army and allows us not only to visualize but get a sense of the sound of the rain, which is presented through the adjective ‘drumming’. This line also presents to us the intensity of the rain again through the adjectives ‘drumming, steady and soaking’. We can presume from the numerous emphasized lines indicating Australia’s uniqueness, that the distinctiveness of Australia is the main reason for the persona’s perplexing attachment and love for her country.
For instance Mackellar’s use of paradox in the line: ‘For flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold’, implies that Australia bestows both fire and flood (two extreme and completely opposite conditions of the weather) on its inhabitants. Thus Mackellar again presents the idea of her countries uniqueness, changeability and wilderness, which again endorses the theme of the poem. From the above we can conclude that Mackellar’s deep relationship and passion with her country has been developed from Australia’s wilderness, changeability and distinctiveness compared to England’s tame, dull and domesticated landscapes.
Mackellar endorses this theme throughout her poem using various language techniques to illuminate the lines implying these characteristics of Australia. For instance: the paradox within the line ‘For flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold’, Juxtaposition, personification, alliteration and assonance and finally imagery which was the most heavily used to convey the unique characteristics of Australia.