Biography of Charles Harpur
Charles Harpur was an Australian poet.
Harpur was born at Windsor, New South Wales, the third child of Joseph Harpur — originally from Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland, parish clerk and master of the Windsor district school — and Sarah, née Chidley (from Somerset; both had been transported.) Harpur received his elementary education in Windsor. This was probably largely supplemented by private study; he was an eager reader of William Shakespeare. Harpur followed various avocations in the bush and for some years in his twenties held a clerical position at the post office in Sydney.
In Sydney, he met Henry Parkes, Daniel Deniehy, Robert Lowe and W. A. Duncan, who in 1845 published Harpur's first little volume, Thoughts, A Series of Sonnets, which has since become very rare. Harpur had left Sydney two years before and was farming with a brother on the Hunter River. In 1850, he married Mary Doyle and engaged in sheep farming for some years with varying success. In 1853, he published The Bushrangers: a Play in Five Acts, and other Poems. The play is a failure and contains some of Harpur's worst writing, but the volume included some of his best poems. In 1858, he was appointed gold commissioner at Araluen with a good salary. He held the position for eight years and also had a farm at Eurobodalla. Harpur found, however, that his duties prevented him from supervising the work on the farm and it became a bad investment.
Two verse pamphlets, A Poets Home and The Tower of a Dream, appeared in 1862 and 1865 respectively.
In 1866, Harpur's position was abolished at a time of retrenchment, and in March 1867 he had a great sorrow when his second son was killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun. Harpur never recovered from the blow. He contracted tuberculosis in the hard winter of 1867, and died on 10 June 1868. He was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. One of his daughters, writing many years later, mentioned that he had left his family an unencumbered farm and a well-furnished comfortable home.
A collected edition of Harpur's poems was not published until 1883. The unknown editor stated that he had "had to supply those final revisions which the author had been obliged to leave unmade". This work does not appear to have been well done, and several already published poems which needed no revision were not included. The manuscripts of Harpur's poems are at the Mitchell Library, Sydney, and a portrait is in the council chamber at Windsor.
Harpur was the first Australian poet worthy of the name. He is little read today and the tendency has been to under-rate him in comparison with other writers of the nineteenth century. He may have been slightly influenced by William Wordsworth but he is not really a derivative poet, and his best work is excellent. He is represented in several Australian anthologies.
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Charles Harpur Poems
A Midsummer Noon In The Australian Fores...
A MIDSUMMER NOON IN THE AUSTRALIAN FOREST Not a bird disturbs the air! There is quiet everywhere;
Trust In God
Deep trust in God—for that I still have sought Through all the grim doubts that bemock the soul, When in the amazement of far-reaching throught, We list the labourings that for ever roll
A Storm In The Mountains
A lonely boy, far venturing from home Out on the half-wild herd’s faint tracks I roam; Mid rock-browned mountains, which with stony frown Glare into haggard chasms deep adown;
Description Of A Tropical Island
Behold an Indian isle, reposed Upon the deep’s enamoured breast, Even like a royal bride, be-rosed With passion in her happy rest.
An Aboriginal Mothers's Lament
An Aboriginal Mother’s Lament Charles Harpur
’Tis the early summer season, when the skies are clear and blue; When wide warm fields are glad with corn as green as ever grew, And upland growths of wattles engolden all the view. Oh! Is there conscious joyance in that heven so clearly blue?
The Temperance Movement
A POWER is stirring—a broad light has shone Amid the nation’s—in the wilderness Of the world’s social horror and distress, Heralding temperance as the Baptist John
A Basket Of Summer Fruit
First see those ample melons-brindled o'er With mingled green and brown is all the rind; For they are ripe, and mealy at the core,
Australia's First Great Poet
HIS lot how glorious whom the must shall name Her first high-priest in this bright southern clime! Aglow with light from her aspiring flame, Catching the raptures of her Grecian prime,
Firm trust of the bold sailor on the shores of sudden storm, What strength is in its structure and the fitness of its form! Old ocean’s bed-rock gripping, with the hurricane’s tug ’twill cope, And therefore ’tis the emblem held of man’s eternal hope.
I. HOW beautiful doth the morning rise O’er the hills, as from her bower a bride Comes brightened—blushing with the shame-faced pride
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—
Of Cora, once so dearly ours, Would mournful memory sing; Of how she came when came the flowers, To leave us with the spring.
’TWAS night—and where a watery sound Came moaning up the Flat, Six rude and bearded stockmen round Their blazing hut-fire sat,
Spirit, that lookest from the starry fold
Of truth’s white flock, next to thy Milton there
Accept my reverence though but feebly told.
And oh! My heart from thy example rare
Henceforth its being for worthiest ends would bear.
Thy deeds, though plain, were towering all and bold,
And like the stedfast columns that uphold
Some awful temple, to thy duty were.
How much thy story has enlarged my ken