Harpur’s Notes and Kendall’s Bell Birds


ARLES HARPUR (1813-1868), a Currency Lad poet of convict parentage, is at present receiving considerable attention from students of Australian literature, and it is expected that collections of his poems and prose writings will shortly be available to the public. Much of his work can be found in Sydney newspapers and journals published between 1833 and a few years after his death, as well as in the comprehensive collection of manuscripts held in the Mitchell Library. Harpur wrote a great amount of didactic prose in the heavy, convoluted style of a minor eighteenth century coffee-house journalist. Even in a colonial journal Harpur's prose is distinguishable by its turgidity, its indirectness, its use of figures of speech and allusion. It must be added that whatever Harpur wrote is also distinguished by the seriousness of the issues it raises and the force of feeling that it displays. His contributions to colonial journals include articles on poetry and related aspects of aesthetics and ethics, but a considerable portion of his prose is in the form of notes appended to his verses—in much the same way as Southey, Wordsworth and Shelley, for example, supplied prose notes to their published poems.

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Published 1 May 1972 in Volume 5 No. 3. Subjects: Australian landscape - Literary portrayal, Poetic techniques, Charles Harpur, Henry Kendall.

Cite as: Perkins, Elizabeth. ‘Harpur’s Notes and Kendall’s Bell Birds.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 5, no. 3, 1972, doi: 10.20314/als.13d3c8961f.