Charles Harpur

Here you will find the Long Poem The Vision of the Rock of poet Charles Harpur

The Vision of the Rock

I SATE upon a lonely peak, 
 A backwood river?s course to view, 
 And watched the changing shadows freak 
 Its liquid length of gleaming blue, 
 Streaked by the crane slow gliding o?er, 
 Or chequering to the leafy roar 
 Of woods that ?neath me grew, 
 Or curdling dark, as high o?erhead 
The gathering clouds before the sounding breezes fled. 
 Straight I bethought how once the scene 
 Spread in its primal horror there, 
 When, but some lone bird?s weary threne 
 Or howlings from the wild dog?s lair, 
 Or rush of startled kangaroo, 
 As near some stealthy savage drew 
 With hunger in his air, 
 Or, from the stream some murmur?d sound 
Broke the dread slumbrous calm of solitude profound. 

 A change came o?er my thoughts?behind 
 A length of coming time I threw, 
 Till round me, on that rock reclined, 
 Its folds prophetic vision drew; 
 And purpling, like the morning, gave 
 Mine eyes of freedom?s births to have 
 A seeming ante-view; 
 As haply in brave promise stole 
His country?s purer weal o?er youthful Hampden?s soul. 

 All round me villages upgrew 
 At once, with orchards clumped about, 
 And oft between, tall pine-rows through, 
 Some mansion?s pillard porch looked out, 
 And thickening up from alleys green, 
 Where rustic groups in dance were seen, 
 Came merry cry and shout; 
 While from tall groves beyond, the cheer 
Of maiden?s laughter soft, broke in rich wavelets near. 

 And in the gusts that overpassed 
 The stir of neighbouring cities came, 
 Whose structures in the distance massed 
 Proclaimed their opulence and fame, 
 O?er fields of ripening plenty viewed, 
 Or hills with white flocks fleeced, and strewed 
 With herds that grazed the same; 
 While on the paven roads between 
The crowding chariots came with rapid-rolling din. 

 Now gaining depth, the vision lay 
 Around my being like a law, 
 So that my spirit might not say 
 But all was real that I saw: 
 I mark a youth and maiden, pressed 
 By love?s sweet power, elude the rest, 
 And as they nearer draw 
 I list the vow that each imparts 
Folded within the spells of harmonizing hearts. 

 But suddenly a grim-faced sire 
 Strides like a fatal wraith between 
 With that cold whiteness is his ire 
 Which in the bad alone is seen! 
 Alas! This world can never be 
 A poet?s Eden utterly? 
 Twill be what it hath been! 
 So long as love?s rich heart is red, 
And beauty?s eyes are bright?so long shall tears be shed. 

 They pass; and lo, a lonely boy 
 With wandering step goes musing by; 
 Glory is in his air, and joy, 
 And all the poet in his eye! 
 And now, whilst rich emotions flush 
 His happy face, as cloud-hues blush 
 In morning?s radiant sky, 
 He sings?and to the charmful sound 
Troops of angelic shapes throng into being round. 

 But ?neath a sombre cypress tree, 
 And clad in garbs of kindred gloom, 
 A mother and her child I see 
 Both mourning o?er a lowly tomb! 
 Ah! Life hath ever been a brief 
 Mixed dream of glory and grief? 
 Its earliest, latest doom! 
 That heart in which love?s tides first ran 
Descends with all its risks to every child of man. 

 Now turning see, with locks all grey, 
 A form majestic; wisdom true 
 Illumes his brow?the power to weigh 
 All worth, and look all semblence through; 
 And stately youths of studious mien, 
 Children of light, with him are seen, 
 His auditory?who 
 Attend the speaking sage along 
And hearken to the wisdom of his manna-dropping tongue. 

 And now doth his large utterance throw 
 A sacred solemnizing spell 
 O?er scenes that yet no record know, 
 Round names that now I may not tell; 
 But there was one?too long unknown! 
 Whereat, as with a household tone 
 Upon the ear it fell, 
 Each listener?s speaking eyes were given 
To glisten with a tear and turn awhile to heaven. 

 Thus night came on; for hours had flown, 
 And yet its hold the vision kept, 
 Till lulled by many a dying tone, 
 I laid me on the rock and slept! 
 And now the moon hung big between 
 Two neighbouring summits sheath?d with sheen? 
 When all with dews dewept, 
 And roused by a loud coming gale, 
I sought our camp-fire?s glow, deep in the darkening vale.