The Premier of New South Wales has suggested that one word of our national anthem should now be changed to reflect a more united community.
Replace ‘young’ with ‘one’, Gladys Berejiklian suggested and most would agree with her as the national birth rate keeps dropping, despite former Treasurer Costello’s plea to have on for mum and one for dad and one for the country.
But if we’re not ‘young’ or getting younger, so why not substitute just the one word?
Well, I’d go further. Republicans and people generally anti-British in attitude have sneered, riled and mocked the word ‘girt’.
So why not do away with that as well, an archaic Anglo-Saxon word loaded with unfortunate antecedents and open to ridicule? OK, we understand it means surrounded by sea. We’re an island continent and in these Covid times, we’re hugely grateful.
So, we’re surrounded by sea and if we can get rid of that awful ‘girt’ we could substitute ‘set in sea’ without any less of rhythm or tempo. Actually, it makes sense, don’t you think? And it might please some people.
Really, we should thank Shakespeare, another islander, who gave us one of the greatest patriotic speeches about islands that has ever been written.
It’s the words of the dying duke, John of Gaunt, who has waged war over in Europe, married a Spanish princess and held England together for his nephew Richard. Gaunt’s words have echoed down the centuries and they could just as easily stand for Australia:
This other Eden, demi-paradise, this fortress built by nature for herself against Infection and the hand of war, this happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea which serves it in the office of a wall, or as a moat defensive to a house, against the envy of less happier lands, this blessed plot.
Take out the references to that other island, and Shakespeare’s words fit us rather well.
So why not get rid of ‘girt’ as well as ‘young’. Just a suggestion and over to you, Premier.
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