Charles Harpur (23 January 1813 – 10 June 1868 / Windsor, New South Wales)
A Poet's Home
HERE in this lonely rill-engirdled spot,
The world forgetting, by the world forgot,
With one vowed to me with beloved lips
How sweet to draw, as hiddenly from time,
As from its rocks yon shaded fountain slips,
My yet remaining prime.
Here early rising from a sinless bed
How sweet it were to view Aurora shed
Her first white glances o’er the dusky wood,
When powdered as with pearls the sprays all gleam
Through the grey dawn, like prophecies of good
Or like some fairy dream.
And while the clouds imbibed a golden hue,
And purple streaks grained yon ethereal blue,
By the glad voice of every early bird
(As some full lake by breezes in their glee
Is rippled into smiles) how sweetly stirred
My spirit then should be!
And as like burning bullion brightened still
The cloud-hung East, over yon misty hill
I’d watch the sun’s ethereal chariot come,
Filling the glades with flakes of chrystal fire
And the green spaces round my rural home,
Where slept mine Heart’s Desire.
When, if sweet memories of her sleeping smile
Should my devotion thitherward beguile,
Cheating the morn of its observance due,
My happy voice should not be wanting long
To wile her forth with loving transport true
Or wake her with a song.
“Awake, my fair one! for the glowing skies
Desire thee, and a thousand flowery eyes
Look for thy coming from each pathway side;
With all things fresh and beautiful and bright
The earth’s adorned like an Eastern bride,—
Arise, my best delight!
What can be deeper than the heavens o’erbending,
Or what be richer than the colours blending
Amid the green cones of the misty hill!
What gladder than the runnel’s silvery fall!
And yet my spirit asketh something still—
’Tis thee, the crown of all!”
Joined by the Angel of my life, behold
The day’s unfolded gates of heavenly gold
How lovelier now for her dear loveliness!
The birds, the stream, the forest’s leafy stir
Catch from her voice a double power to bless,
And the flowers breathe of her!
The dews are brighter for her love-bright eyes
And the air sweeter for the soul that lies
In every gesture of her gentle face!
So widely Love’s invisible spirit flings
The visible enrichment of its grace
O’er all regarded things.
Filled with the fresh keen life that so sublimes
Both mind and body, we should then betimes
Repair us to our cheerful morning meal,
Not more attuned by thankfulness of heart
Well to enjoy, than willing in our weal
To spare a stranger part.
Sufficed and grateful, to her household care
Should she betake her then,—I fieldward fare
To till the thriving maize or guide the plough
Through the rich loam, or while the slant sunshine
Carress’d them, to remark the melons, how
They lumped from out their vine.
Thence to the well kept orchard to behold
The orange trees o’erhung with globes of gold
Or thin the peachy tribes all ruddy cheeked
And clumping from the branches, and with these
The nectarine’s fragrant swarms so lushly streaked,
That flavour even the breeze:
To pluck the fig, that in its broad-leafed shade
Secretes its ripeness—even like a maid
Mature for love, who yet through bashfulness
Doth shun or seem to shun each wooer’s sight—
Or stay the drooping vine whose every tress
Is bunch’d with clusters bright.
So should the noon draw on: when in yon shade
Beside the rill, on the green herbage laid
In careless luxury my faint limbs should be,
And hearing but the splash of feathered things
Then fluttering downward from some neighbouring tree
To dip their shining wings,
Or the slow-rising and most summery hum
Of gorgeous insects that at times might come
Over the runnel and so voyage by,
Or the light footfall on the farther brink
Of some wild creature, from its covert nigh
Just venturing forth to drink:
I’d calmly think of all my wandering youth
Had suffered, with a heart so dear to Truth
That she at length had portioned it with love,
And then of her who to my very soul
Was what the vitalising Sun above
Is to the natural whole.
Thus rested, when the fieryer-winged hours
Were quenching in the west, with freshened powers
The field again in honorable toil
Should hear me ending what the morn begun,
Till I might say, scanning the well-dressed soil,
A good day’s work is done.
Then whilst I woodward drove the unharnessed steer
Or for the kine was searching somewhere near
Grouping full-fed in ruminating mood,
The sun should ’light upon yon western hill
Slanting his last beams through the shadowing wood
And up the gleaming rill,
To sink at length and make the clouds above
Golden idealisms of the love
My heart poured out on Nature, and on her
Now waiting me at our peace-hallowed board:
Thus placed, who’d care amongst the great to stir
Or with the rich to hoard?
The pens secured, the final meal in haste
Despatch’d though savoury, both should forth to taste
Eve’s odorous breath and with renewed surprise
To find Elysiums painted in the west,
And looking then into each other’s eyes,
Should feel that we were blest.
And when the gloaming followed Evening’s flight,
Whilst yet o’er yonder hills a skiey light
Keeps mellowing upward, near to where, first seen,
The glowing Leader of the starry quire
Comes wingedly from out the blue serene,
Even like a bird of fire,
The hushing bounties of those twilight hours
Falling into our souls, as in the flowers’
Balm-breathing bosoms melt the silent dews,
Should freshen every feeling mild and wise
And thence o’er all our charities diffuse
The quiet of the skies.
Thus should the night come on, in solemn guise
To look with all her far ethereal eyes
Upon my happy life, and draw my soul
To wander like a star the stars among
And homeward point from the resplendent pole
Uranian beams of song.
Or whilst the moon, the world’s apparent queen,
Came whitening up in majesty serene,
Reminding us of some dear long-past night,
I’d chronicle in rhyme the many things
Of lovely thought that from her mystic light
Had woven them their wings.
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