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Issue Details: First known date: 2010... 2010 Poetry and History : Australian History in Poetry
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'During the nineteenth century, history and the higher forms of art were seen as going hand in hand. The 'history picture,' involving a large-scale depiction of a well-known historical event, was regarded as much more prestigious than a portrait or landscape; tragedies were always set in the past and Sir Walter Scott, it was claimed, made the novel respectable by making it historical. Poets were not immune from this contagion, especially as writing a long poem was still believed to be the way in which a poet could truly prove his worth (gender not really coming into it then). Nineteenth-century Australian poets naturally went along with these notions, producing tragedies set in ancient Rome or, at the latest, Elizabeth England. Charles Harpur, as the self-proclaimed first national Australian poet, initially tried to break with tradition, writing a tragedy about a bushranger and an epic about exploration. Successive revisions of The Creek of the Four Graves, however, show him introducing increasingly archaic language in an effort to provide historical distance. And even Harpur later chose non-Australian topics for his long poem Genius Lost, about Thomas Chatterton, and The Witch of Hebron : a Rabbinical Legend.' (p. 13)

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  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Five Bells vol. 17 no. 1/2 Summer/Autumn 2010 Z1686843 2010 periodical issue 2010 pg. 13-18
Last amended 28 Apr 2010 09:41:18
13-18 Poetry and History : Australian History in Poetrysmall AustLit logo Five Bells
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