A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest

Not a bird disturbs the air!
There is quiet everywhere;

Charles Harpur begins his poem evoking a surreal calm. Everything is still. Everything is quiet. This is the realm of peaceful silence, yet there is an air of expectation. There is a presence.. Even the most tireless and unstoppable animals seem to respect the peace of such a solemn place. The personification of the landscape is cleverly used by the author to emphasize even more this atmosphere.

Only there’s a drowsy humming
From yon warm lagoon slow coming                                                                                                                          […]
Only there’s a droning where
Yon bright beetle gleams the air –
Gleams it in its droning flight
[Tracks it in its gleaming flight]
With a slanting track of light,
Till rising in the sunshine higher,
[Rising in the sunshine higher,]
Its shards flame out like gems on fire.
[Till its shards flame out like fire.]

Suddenly the reader , through meticulous description of every single detail , is catapulted into a high-energy scene. Sounds and movements are added to the picture, demonstrating that poetry wins against painting as a better form of expression ( the dilemma of the time ). The elevated language is a clear evidence of the teaching received from his father through the study of the Bible too. The language he uses to portray the scene shows similarity to that used by the English poets. It is also interesting the way he uses the noun “gleam”, declining it like a verb.

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

0 ‘tis easeful here to lie
Hidden from Noon’s scorching eye,
In this grassy cool recess
Musing thus of Quietness.

The poet becomes photographer : abandoned zoom and returns to contemplate the landscape. From micro to macro. From the shiny vitality of the world in miniature to the incredible immutability of the massive environment. Finally, the last line contains in my opinion the poet’s inheritance: let the quiet entering into you. This is what really matters: open your heart to peace and serenity!


Before Friday, I had never heard of these singular birds with their unique voice, a voice that enchants and gives harmony to the poet. Bellbirds’ notes inspire the author. This sound resonates everywhere. Thanks to their distinctive call he can express his purpose: to underline his intense feeling, his primal connection with the bushland valleys. Henry Kendall, using a style that is fluent and intense, describes a glamorous landscape. This enchanted place is a refuge from the troubles of life, It is the cure for the greatest unhappiness. The nature is glorified and every single verse exudes the poet’s love for this land, his intense connection  with the place. The author gives us the perfect description of his poem: “songs interwoven of lights and of laughters”. The voices of the Bellbirds can donate comfort. I think the difference between Kendall and his master is precisely this:
although both the works are extremely descriptive and pictorial, according to Henry Kendall the landscape with its incredible beauty provides a way of salvation , but for Charles It is a place where getting lost not necessarily to escape.



2 risposte a "Perspective"

  1. Barbara, your insights to the poem “A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest” were beautifully descriptive and expressed from such a fresh point of view. Your description: “Even the most tireless and unstoppable animals seem to respect the peace of such a solemn place” really captured what Harpur was trying to convey. Noting that “The poet becomes photographer : abandoned zoom and returns to contemplate the landscape. From micro to macro.” gave me a new insight to the poem after only just having analyzed it myself. I really enjoyed this post.

    Mi piace


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