Looking at these two poems describing a natural scene (“A Mid-Summer Noon…” & “Bell-Birds”, say what you think each poet values and how they differ in their appreciation and their expression.
As an art student, I have always tried my best to capture the slightest of details in my work as to make it as authentic as possible. It is something even the best of artists would still struggle with. Having read the amazing works by Charles Harpur and Henry Kendall, I realized I still have a long way to go. Both authors painted a beautiful scenery that is quite vivid and detailed. Even more amazingly, they did it with words.
Harpur’s “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest” as a whole can best be summarized with the word: climatic. He started out telling readers about the calm, quiet, almost eery atmosphere the same way an artist would draw the background. All in nature is put on hold, even the most active of beings, in anticipation. Then appears, in such a glorious and majestic manner, the “dragon-hornet” beetle, the focal point of Harpur ‘s written painting. Such a small creature yet it is all we saw, all we noticed. With the quiet as the background, “yon bright beetle” rose bringing life and color. Intellectually and aesthetically pleasing, Harpur gave me a new appreciation for the rare beauty of nature.
In contrast, Henry Kendall’s “Bell-birds” doesn’t just stop at the surface of describing the landscape but also digs deep, emotionally. It possesses a nostalgic feel, with every single word served a purpose of helping readers connect with Kendall. Different from Harpur, Kendall’s focal point lies at the end of the poem rather in the middle. Remembering his childhood in the countryside, Kendall uses it as a tool to help him adjust to the new life in the city. Other than that, he holds onto it dearly for help to get through his own tragedy. I connect to this poem on a personal level, as having moved to Sydney only recently. Everything was new and strange. My mind travelled back to my time in Vietnam automatically almost as a self-defense mechanism. Although not as detailed, I went through what Kendall had gone through, which made me appreciate his work even more.
If Charles Harpur’s poem was a detailed and structured painting celebrating nature then that of Henry Kendall is an abstract artwork using nature to evoke emotions. Both works share similarities yet couldn’t be more different.