Charles Harpur

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

A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest


A MIDSUMMER NOON IN THE AUSTRALIAN FOREST

Not a bird disturbs the air!
There is quiet everywhere;
Over plains and over woods
What a mighty stillness broods.

Even the grasshoppers keep
[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
In silence to the barky bough:
And 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
With yellow on a tawny ground -
Each rich spot nor square nor round,
But rudely heart-shaped, as it were
The blurred and hasty impress there,
Of vermeil-crusted seal
Dusted o'er with golden meal:
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.]

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.

two versions of this poem have been located. The relevant changes are included in the text in square brackets, i.e. "[...]".

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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