Charles Harpur

Here you will find the Long Poem Monodies of poet Charles Harpur


I stand in thought beside my father?s grave: 
The grave of one who, in his old age, died 
Too late perhaps, since he endured so much 
Of corporal anguish, sweating bloody sweat; 
But not an hour too soon?no, not an hour! 
Even if through all his many years, he ne?er 
Had known another ailment than decay, 
Or felt one bodily pang. For his bruised heart 
And wounded goodwill, wounded through its once 
Samsonian vigour and too credulous trust 
In that great Delilah, the harlot world, 
Had done with fortune;?nay, his very tastes, 
Even the lowliest, had by blast on blast 
Of sorrow and mischance, been blown like leaves 
Deciduous, when the year is withering out, 
From every living hold on what we here 
Call nature; he but followed in their wake. 
Nor was there in the lives of those he loved, 
Even had he been susceptible of cheer, 
Enough of fortune to warm into peace 
A little longer ere he passed away 
The remnant of his chilled humanity. 
Wet are mine eyes, and my heart aches, to think 
How much of evil ridged his course of time 
And earthly pilgrimage. Alas! Enough 
(However bravely struggled with throughout, 
Or passively accepted) to have slain 
In almost any other human heart, 
All comforting reliance on the sure 
Though still reserved supremecy of good! 
For few are they, who, on this stormy ball, 
Can live a long life full of loss and pain, 
And yet through doubts, dull clouds, uplooking, see 
In that wide dome which roofs the apparent whole 
Without or seam or flaw, a visible type 
Of heaven?s intact infinitude of love. 
Yet died he a believer in the truth 
And fatherhood of the Holy One?a God 
Help-mighty, nor unmindful of mankind; 
Yea, in the heavenward reaching light of faith 
His soul went forth, as in a sunbeam?s track 
Some close-caged bird, from a long bondage freed, 
Goes winging up?up through the open sky, 
Rejoicing in the widening glow that paths 
The final victory of its native wings! 
And whether all was triumph as it went 
Piercing eternity, or whether clouds 
Of penal terror gathered in the way, 
Not less must death the great inductor be 
To much that far transcends time?s highest lore, 
Must be at worst a grimly grateful thing, 
If only through deliverance from doubt, 
The clinging curse of mortals. In the flesh 
What own we but the present, with its scant 
Assurance of a secular permanence 
Even in the fact of being? While all that lies 
Beyond it, lies or in the casual drifts 
Of embryon needs that, lurking dark, project 
To-morrow?s world,?or worse, at the wild will 
Of a demoniac fortune! But the dead 
Have this immunity at least?a lot 
Final and fixed, as evermore within 
The gates of the Eternal! For the past 
Is wholly God s, and therefore, like himself, 
Knows no reverse, no change,?but lies for eye 
Stretched in the sabbath of its vast repose. 


My dear, dear Charley! Can it be that thou 
Art gone from us for ever! Whilst I sit 
Amid these forest shadows that now fall 
In sombre masses mixed with sunny gleams 
Upon thy early grave, and think of all 
The household love that was our mutual lot 
So late, and during all thy little life? 
Thy thirteen years of sonhood,?it is hard 
(So dreamlike wild it seems) to realize 
The shuddering certainty, that thou art now 
In the eternal world, and reft away 
In one dread moment from thy father?s heart! 
Thy young intelligence from his lonely side 
So reft for ever, leaving him, alas! 
Thus sitting here forlorn?here by thy grave 
New-made and bare, as upon life?s bleak brink, 
To stare out deathward through his blinding tears. 
And they, thy brothers and thy sisters, Charley, 
They miss their vanished playmate so beloved, 
And so endeared by years of happy help, 
And many a pleasant old-faced memory! 
I see them often when thy name is breathed 
Look away askingly out into space, 
As if they thought thy spirit might be there, 
Still yearning towards them with a saddened love 
Like that in their own hearts. And an! To him 
Who at thy side, when death came swift upon thee, 
Sent out through the wild forest such a shriek 
As never until then might break the peace 
That nestles in its lairs?ah! When to him 
Shall the drear haggard memory of that day 
Be other than a horror?such as, clothed 
In terrible mystery, for ever keeps 
Stalking beside us in some ghastly dream. 
But most I pity her who bore thee, Charley, 
Whose mother-bosom was at once the next 
And fountain of thy infant life, and who, 
Through all thy after years, was ever wont 
To shield thee with her love, and doat the while 
(Though with some fear) upon thos