Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology (AJE), Vol 3 (2013)

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The Ecopoetics of Charles Harpur

Cassandra Julie O'Loughlin


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.

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