To an Echo on the Banks of the Hunter
By Charles Harpur
I hear thee, Echo! And I start to hear thee
With a strange shock, as from among the hills
Thy voice, reverbing, in swift murmurs near me,
Dies down the Stream, or with its gurgle low
Blends whisperingly, until my bosom thrills
With gentle tribulations that endear thee,
But smack not of the Present. ‘Twas as though
Some Spirit of the Past did then ensphere 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 Hawkesbury 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 time, O where
Are those quick joys, glad mates, and hopes of good?
Thy voice comes o’er the waters in reply,
To fade as soon! And all those young delights
Decayed (as thy peculiar accents die)
In the dusk valleys of past days and nights,
To be renewed not like thy ghostly chide!
And one to the other of those joyous creatures,
(Now burthened with their manhoods), in the wide
World’s separations have the names and features
So wasted out of mind. And so, at last,
Have all those glorious hopes become but lonely
And dying Echoes of the hollow Past—
All but one only!
And that, ev’n round my Being only strays
Like a recurring sound. In lonesome ways
Like these it moves me still—not as of yore
Undubiously, though yet its spirit plays
Upon the same old promise: That, when o’er
My Country’s homes there shineth riper days,
Her better sons shall learn at length to prize
My lonely voice upon the Past; but more
That to her daughters, as with lustrous eyes
Bathed in the splendors of these self-same skies,
They’ll gaze upon my page, even then my Name
Responsive to the ever-loving swell
Of their full souls, and winnowed of its blame,
From Time’s dim void (an echo) thus shall come!
And wheresoever Love and Song may dwell,
So live and die in sweet perpetual doom
Over the flood of ages,--still and still, the same
Old claimant with a memorable claim!
And in this Hope, though from its pristine state
Fall’n and adrift and spoiled of all its bloom,
The recompense for much I lack is great,
For more that may annoy;
Crowning me oft ‘mid these dark days of fate
With joy—even joy!