Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  A Midsummer’s Noon in the Australian Forest

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Charles Harpur 1817–68

A Midsummer’s Noon in the Australian Forest

NOT a sound disturbs the air,

There is quiet everywhere;

Over plains and over woods

What a mighty stillness broods!

All the birds and insects sleep;

Where the coolest shadows sleep;

Even the busy ants are found

Resting in their pebbled mound;

Even the locust clingeth now

Silent to the barky bough:

Over hills and over plains

Quiet, vast and slumbrous, reigns.

Only there ’s a drowsy humming

From you warm lagoon slow-coming:

’T is the dragon-hornet—see!

All bedaubed resplendently

Yellow on a tawny ground—

Each rich spot not square nor round,

Rudely heart-shaped, as it were

The blurred and hasty impress there

Of a vermeil-crusted seal

Dusted o’er with golden meal.

Only there ’s a droning where

You bright beetle shines in air,

Tracks it in its gleaming flight

With a slanting beam of light

Rising in the sunshine higher,

Till its shards flame out like fire.

Every other thing is still,

Save the ever-wakeful rill,

Whose cool murmur only throws

Cooler comfort round repose;

Or some ripple in the sea,

Of leafy boughs, where, lazily,

Tired summer, in her bower

Turning with the noontide hour,

Heaves a slumbrous breath ere she

Once more slumbers peacefully.

Oh, ’t is easeful here to lie

Hidden from noon’s scorching eye,

In this grassy cool recess

Musing thus of quietness.