To an Echo on the Banks of the Hunter by Charles Harpur

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I hear thee, Echo; and I start to hear thee,
   With a strange tremor, as among the hills

Thy voice reverbs, and in swift murmurs near me

      Dies down the stream, or with its gurgle low

   Blends whisp'ringly -- untll my bosom thrills
With gentle tribulations that endear thee,

    But smack not of the present. 'Twere as though    

A spirit of the past did then insphere thee

Even with the taste of life's regretted spring --

   Waking wild recollections, to evince

My being's transfused connexion with each thing

               Loved, though long since.  


It seems but yesterday since last I stood

   Beside the Hawkesb'ry, even as now I stand

By the swift Hunter, challenging, o'er the flood,
An echo thus; but with a glorious brood

   Of hopes then glowing round me, and a band

Of schoolmates and young creatures of my blood,

   All quick with joyousness beyond command;

   And now, with that delightful day, oh, where

Are those glad mates, quick joys, and hopes of good?

               Where, Echo, where?


Thy voice comes o'er the waters in reply,

   To fade as soon -- and all those young delights

Decay'd, on thy peculiar accents die,  

   In the dusk valleys of past days and nights,

To be renew'd not like thy mystic chide;

   And one to the other of these joyous sprites,

Now burthened with their manhoods, in the wide

World's separations, even the names as fast

Of each have faded; and those hopes at last--  

   Aye, all those glorious hopes of mine, save one,

Become but echoes of the hollow past--

               All, all but one!

And that, too, round my being only strays

    Like a recurring sound :- 'Tis that, when o'er

My country shall have swept the ripening days

      Of centuries, her better sons shall prize

   My lonely voice upon the past;- but more

      That to her daugthers, so with glowing eyes,

      Bath'd to the splendour of these selfesame skies,

They'll gaze upon my page -- even then my name,

   Unheeded now, responsive to the swell

Of their full souls, and winnow'd of its blame,

      From the dim past (an echo) thus shall come:

   And wheresoever Love end Song may dwell,

      To live and die in sweet perpetual doom,

Upon the flood of ages -- still the same.

   And in this hope the recompense is great

For much that I may lack, for more that may annoy,

   Crowning me oft 'mid these dark days of fate

               With joy-even joy !

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 14 March 1843;
and then later in
The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 17 October 1846;
The People's Advocate and New South Wales Vindicator, 20 January 1849;
The Bushrangers, a Play in Five Acts, and Other Poems by Charles Harpur, 1853; and
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 14, 2011 8:21 AM.

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