Lost in the Bush single work   poetry   "Lost in the Bush! the night approaching fast,"
  • Author: Charles Harpur http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/harpur-charles
Composed: Singleton, Singleton area, Hunter Valley, Newcastle - Hunter Valley area, New South Wales,
Issue Details: First known date: 1842 1842
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Humorous piece on Squatter Will's predicament' (Webby)

Notes

  • This poem appears in a number of versions from 1842 onwards. For further details, see The Poems of Charles Harpur in Manuscript in the Mitchell Library and in Publication in the Nineteenth Century: An Analytical Finding List by Elizabeth Holt and Elizabeth Perkins (Canberra: Australian Scholarly Editions Centre, 2002).

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First line of verse: "Lost in the Bush! the night encroaching fast,"
Notes:
Comprises 97 lines.
Notes:
Comprises 115 lines.
Notes:
Author's note: The rough draft of this poem was originally published in the Australasian Chronicle, and was in substance much as it appears above, with the exception of a couplet introduced here and there, and the four lines about the curlews, which were thrown in on the following occasion. Mr. Thrum of Singleton, and myself, had been pigeon-shooting at the back of Castle Forbes, and being overtaken by the night, as we were returning homeward, he observed that the aspect and circumstances of the surrounding scene answered in many respects to my Lost in the Bush. At that moment, a number of curlews began to muster in the dim glades about us, and send forth their "ominous" seeming cries with a wild and startling effect : and in reply to his remark, I said : But hark! I omitted to notice those strangely discordant gentlemen--the poem is so far incomplete. The lines descriptive of their peculiar nocturnal orgies were immediately upon the "Muse's anvil," and had, ere we reached home, the approval of my companion, as a finishing stroke to the performance. I have noted this circumstance, thus at length, to show, inferentially, the observant heed I have been in the habit of bestowing upon all my poetical pictures of Bush matters. C. H.
  • Appears in:
    y The Empire no. 1967 27 April 1857 Z1732306 1857 newspaper issue 1857 pg. 6

Works about this Work

Representations of ‘The Bush’ in the Poetry of Charles Harpur Elizabeth Webby , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;

'The first month of 2013 was marked by two very different events. On 12 January, the Governor General, stars of stage and screen, politicians and other notables attended the Sydney Theatre for the opening night of The Secret River, Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s best-selling if controversial novel. On 23 January a much smaller group of academics and other lovers of Australian literature gathered in Canberra to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Harpur, Australia’s first notable poet. While the people involved in these two events were very different, with one attracting much publicity and other none, there was a link. The Secret River, as a program note testifies, ‘takes place in the Hawkesbury River region of New South Wales between 1814-15’. Charles Harpur had been born in Windsor, the major town on the Hawkesbury, a year earlier. Like William Thornhill in the play, his father Joseph was a former convict who received a free pardon from Governor Macquarie in 1815. By then he was the schoolmaster at Windsor, where he had a grant of land, so that, unlike Thornhill’s children, Harpur grew up with books as his companions.

'In the stage adaptation of The Secret River, Stephen Curtis’s set gives a powerful representation of the beauty and the might of the bush before white settlement, a beauty sullied at the end of the play as Thornhill draws the lines of a fence on the backcloth. For the characters in the play, the bush represents different things: it is home for the Indigenous family, the hope of a prosperous future for Thornhill, a place of fun and games for Dick Thornhill, Garraway and Narabi, but totally alien to Sal Thornhill who never stops longing for London. How did Harpur, growing up on the Hawkesbury during this period, represent the bush and its Indigenous inhabitants? This essay will focus in particular on ‘Lost in the Bush’ and ‘The Kangaroo Hunt’.' (Publication abstract)

Representations of ‘The Bush’ in the Poetry of Charles Harpur Elizabeth Webby , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;

'The first month of 2013 was marked by two very different events. On 12 January, the Governor General, stars of stage and screen, politicians and other notables attended the Sydney Theatre for the opening night of The Secret River, Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s best-selling if controversial novel. On 23 January a much smaller group of academics and other lovers of Australian literature gathered in Canberra to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Harpur, Australia’s first notable poet. While the people involved in these two events were very different, with one attracting much publicity and other none, there was a link. The Secret River, as a program note testifies, ‘takes place in the Hawkesbury River region of New South Wales between 1814-15’. Charles Harpur had been born in Windsor, the major town on the Hawkesbury, a year earlier. Like William Thornhill in the play, his father Joseph was a former convict who received a free pardon from Governor Macquarie in 1815. By then he was the schoolmaster at Windsor, where he had a grant of land, so that, unlike Thornhill’s children, Harpur grew up with books as his companions.

'In the stage adaptation of The Secret River, Stephen Curtis’s set gives a powerful representation of the beauty and the might of the bush before white settlement, a beauty sullied at the end of the play as Thornhill draws the lines of a fence on the backcloth. For the characters in the play, the bush represents different things: it is home for the Indigenous family, the hope of a prosperous future for Thornhill, a place of fun and games for Dick Thornhill, Garraway and Narabi, but totally alien to Sal Thornhill who never stops longing for London. How did Harpur, growing up on the Hawkesbury during this period, represent the bush and its Indigenous inhabitants? This essay will focus in particular on ‘Lost in the Bush’ and ‘The Kangaroo Hunt’.' (Publication abstract)

Last amended 6 May 2013 10:21:21
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