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The Creek of the Four Graves single work   poetry   "I tell a Settler's tale of the old times,"
  • Author:agent Charles Harpur
Issue Details: First known date: 1845... 1845 The Creek of the Four Graves
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

A group of white men wander into the Australian wilderness in search of discovery. They marvel at the foreignness of the landscape before settling down to sleep at their camp. They are woken by an attack from a group of Indigenous Australians. Seeing his friends killed, Egremont flees into a creek and finds a cavity in the earth to hide in. His pursuers give up their hunt, unable to find him, and he escapes. 


  • A poem in three numbered parts that was extensively revised by Harpur through several manuscript versions. After Harpur's death in 1868, the poem was edited by Henry M. Martin in his preparation of Poems (1883), an edition authorised by the poet's wife, Mary Harpur. All manuscript dates taken from The Poems of Charles Harpur: an Analytical Finding List.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Is There an Australian Pastoral Poetry? Andrew Taylor , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Le Simplegadi , November no. 14 2015; (p. 38-51)
Pastoral was common as a European literary genre from the Renaissance until the eighteenth century. It existed in other artistic forms as well, especially in the visual arts, and after its demise as a distinct genre elements of it persisted into the twentieth century, for example in music. With the colonial spread of European culture the pastoral influence also extended into other countries, with a mixed fate. Recently, the term Pastoral has come back into prominence in literature in English, not only in Great Britain but also, notably in the USA and Australia, with the growth of writing motivated by ecological involvement with the natural world, especially landscape. This has led to re-definitions of the term Pastoral in the last few decades. A number of Australian poets are looked at to see whether, and how, their writing about landscape might relate to, or incorporate elements of the Pastoral. The Australian poet John Kinsella, in particular, has been a widely published spokesperson for a new definition of Pastoral. His published works trace his move from a politically activist anti-colonialist redefinition of Pastoral towards a quieter, more harmonious, and essentially ethical engagement with the natural world.
Writing Life Stories from an Aboriginal Perspective Rosemary van den Berg , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Aboriginal Australians and Other 'Others' 2014; (p. 39-51)

'During the last two decades of the 20," century, Aboriginal writers of biography and autobiography opened up new fields of literature in Australian writing. Readers have since been getting different perspectives on Aboriginal people and their lives, the untold version not previously written in the history books by the dominant society. When Aborigines write their life stories, these stories are based on their own personal experiences; the writers are being introspective or subjective. Academic writers and government researchers try to be objective when investigating Aboriginal lives, lifestyles and cultures. These research writings, from such disciplines as anthropology, come from the dominant culture's general concepts of Aboriginal people collectively, and can be biased when comparing Aboriginal lives and cultures with those from the dominant society. Aboriginal writers, in telling their life stories, express their emotions of grief and despair through loss of land and families, and the struggle to survive throughout their lives. Now it is through their literary endeavours that they are rewriting Australia's history; their input in different genres like biography and autobiography are based on the Aborigines' need to reveal another history in Australia, a black history that has been hidden. Through the writer's life experiences, the reader gains a more personalise' account of how Indigenous Australians perceive their respective land, their culture and their people. Poetry, too, like the works of Jack Davis' and  Oogdgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, helps express their innermost feelings how they see environment, which is contrary to  the dominant culture's views or ideologies. However, except for David Unaipon who wrote in the 1920s, it is only in the last few decades, when more and more Aboriginal people began writing life stories, that Aboriginal literature has been accepted as a legitimate genre within Australian society. These writers give new insights into the different cultures and lifestyles Aborigines, across this country. Their readers will understand that Australia has many diverse diverse Aroriginal cultures that are very different from the dominant society's culture.'(Introduction)

The Ecopoetics of Charles Harpur Cassandra Julie O'Loughlin , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology , no. 3 2013;
'Ecopoetics has to do with the realisation of the relationship between human beings and the biosphere. It reflects on what it might mean to dwell with the earth. Before one's country can become accepted as a dwellilng place for the writer's imagination, it must first be discerned, experienced, expressed, and as it were fully engaged. The foreignness of the Australian environment as envisaged by the early European settlers, together with the exploitive ideology of colonialism, proved challenging for colonial writers such as Charles Harpur who felt a sense of connection to the place.This paper examines Harpur's work to determine if it qualifies as ecopoetics as understood in recent studies of literature in relation to the environment. It also seeks to establish his work as a resource for current environmental thinkers, as a point of reference for the consideration of the pre-colonial communicative exchange with this land. His emphasis is on vision: both in a temporal and a transcendental sense.' (Publication abstract)
Learning to Love the Gum Tree Elizabeth Webby , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Island , Autumn no. 120 2010; (p. 44-50)
Charles Harpur and the Warp : Strange Happenings in 'The Creek of Four Graves' David Brooks , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 67 no. 1-2 2007; (p. 151-165)
Introduction to the Penguin Book of Australian Verse Harry Payne Heseltine , 1972 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Penguin Book of Australian Verse 1972; (p. 27-53)

Explores the passage of Australian poetry from 1788 to the early 1970s, discussing why the anthology focuses on 'articulate, personal poetry', and is weighted toward the fruitful period after 1930. Highlights important themes and concerns of Australian poetry - the quest for an Antipodean Eden, the pursuit of Romantic idealism within a strongly secular culture, and the need to define an Australian vision and identity against English culture - and assesses the individual contributions of major poets.

y separately published work icon White Vanishing : A Settler Australian Hegemonic Textual Strategy, 1789-2006 Elspeth Tilley , Z1408578 2007 single work thesis 'This thesis conducts a discourse analysis of the 'white vanishing trope' - stories about white Australians who become lost or disappear - in white Australian texts from 1789 to 2006...[T]he white vanishing trope narrates a specific, and remarkably constant, relationship between indigenous bodies, white bodies, time, and space, in which white settlers are victims and survivors, whose occupation of Australia is constructed as inevitable and right.' - from author's abstract (p.ix)
Charles Harpur and the Warp : Strange Happenings in 'The Creek of Four Graves' David Brooks , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 67 no. 1-2 2007; (p. 151-165)
Learning to Love the Gum Tree Elizabeth Webby , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Island , Autumn no. 120 2010; (p. 44-50)
Place, Landscape, Saussure, Region, and Two Australian Colonial Poets : Some Footnotes Kevin Magarey , 1986 single work criticism
— Appears in: Mapped but Not Known : The Australian Landscape of the Imagination : Essays and Poems Presented to Brian Elliott LXXV 11 April 1985 1986; (p. 105-127)
Last amended 19 Sep 2022 10:34:46