Charles Harpur

(23 January 1813 – 10 June 1868 / Windsor, New South Wales)

Coleridge's Cristabel


Mark yon runnel, how ’tis flowing,
Like a sylvan spirit dreaming
Of the spring-blooms near it blowing,
And the sunlight o’er it beaming—
Bright from bank to bank, or growing
Darkly inter-freaked, when streaming
Where some willowy shade hangs bending
O’er it in green mingled masses—
Lights and shades and blossoms glowing,
All for greater beauty blending
In its vision as it passes.
Where that shelving rock is spied,
There, with a smooth warbling slide,
It lapses down into a cool
And brimming, not o’erflowing, pool
Then between its narrowed banks,
Playing merry gurgling pranks,
It gushes, till a channel’d stone
Gives it a more strenuous tone.

Then its bright curves flashing are,
Like a mighty scimitar
Dropt by some Jove-vanquished god,
And sunk into the yielding sod;
Or betwixt thick-reeded beaches
It whispers low mysterious speeches;
Or, with an underswirling spread
Over a wide pebbled bed,
It bubbles with a gentle pleasure
Ere some new mood change the measure.

Such a runnel typeth well
The sweet wild verse of Christabel.
And if, all suddenly, at length,
It sank, a broken end to make
In some subterranean lake,
A further type we might behold
Of the story, half untold.

But what might picture to our view
The wonder-world it warbles through!



Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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