Friday Australian poem #9: Charles Harpur (1813 – 1868)

05 Oct


A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest

Charles Harpur


HARPUR, CHARLES (1813-1868), poet and critic, was born on 23 January 1813, at Windsor on the Hawkesbury, the third child and second son of Joseph Harpur, government schoolmaster and parish clerk, and his wife Sarah, née Chidley. Both parents had been transported; his father, a native of Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland, arrived in Sydney Cove in 1800 and his mother, from Somerset, in 1806. — From The Australian Dictionary of Biography entry by J. Normington-Rawling, linked above.

NOT a sound disturbs the air,
There is quiet everywhere;
Over plains and over woods
What a mighty stillness broods!

All the birds and insects keep
Where the coolest shadows sleep;
Even the busy ants are found
Resting in their pebbled mound;
Even the locust clingeth now
Silent to the barky bough:
Over hills and over plains
Quiet, vast and slumbrous, reigns.

Only there’s a drowsy humming
From yon warm lagoon slow coming:
’Tis the dragon-hornet—see!
All bedaubed resplendently,
Yellow on a tawny ground—
Each rich spot nor square nor round,
Rudely heart-shaped, as it were
The blurred and hasty impress there

Of a vermeil-crusted seal
Dusted o’er with golden meal.
Only there’s a droning where
Yon bright beetle shines in air,
Tacks it in its gleaming flight
With a slanting beam of light,
Rising in the sunshine higher,
Till its shards flame out like fire.

Every other thing is still,
Save the ever-wakeful rill,
Whose cool murmur only throws
Cooler comfort round repose;
Or some ripple in the sea
Of leafy boughs, where, lazily,
Tired summer, in her bower
Turning with the noontide hour,
Heaves a slumbrous breath ere she
Once more slumbers peacefully.

O ’tis easeful here to lie
Hidden from noon’s scorching eye,
In the grassy cool recess
Musing thus of quietness.

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Posted by on October 5, 2007 in Aussie interest, Cultural and other, OzLit, poets and poetry


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