Charles Harpur’s Disfiguring Origins: Allegory in Colonial Poetry


Mead examines the poetry of Charles Harpur in terms of the poet’s attempt to move from colonial to national modes of expression. Mead proceeds by exploring the allegorical nature of some poems as signs of Harpur’s attempt to exhibit the original Australian voice to which he aspired. But, allegoresis, Mead suggests, opposes the poet’s romanticising of origins because of the gap between the signs of expression and the experience of the poet. What is found when one seeks “origins” in Harpur’s poetry is not a “unitary or easily traceable historical origin” but the “divisions and anxieties” of Harpur’s allegory.

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Published 1 May 1990 in Volume 14 No. 3. Subjects: Allegory, Australian landscape - Literary portrayal, Australian poetry, Mimesis, Poetic creative process, Poetics, Sexuality & sexual identity, Writer's inspiration, Charles Harpur.

Cite as: Mead, Philip. ‘Charles Harpur’s Disfiguring Origins: Allegory in Colonial Poetry.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 14, no. 3, 1990, doi: 10.20314/als.f6eacf2206.