Lesbia Harford



Reclaimed Land: Australian Urbanisation and Poetry

In the late 1850s, Charles Harpur composed the image of ‘a scanty vine,/ Trailing along some backyard wall’ (‘A Coast View’). It might be forgettable, save for its conspicuousness in Harpur’s bush-obsessed poetry. Whether purple ranges or groaning sea-cliffs, his poems cleave to a more-than-human continent. The scanty vine, however, clings to a different surface: human-made – the craft of a drystone wall, perhaps, or wire strung through posts like the twist of the poetic line – it signals domestic land division. Harpur’s vine of words trails along the vertical edifice of settlement.

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Review Short: Collected Poems: Lesbia Harford, edited by Oliver Dennis

Collected Poems: Lesbia HarfordIn the foreword of this long overdue volume, Les Murray writes that he considers Lesbia Harford to be ‘one of the two finest female poets so far seen in Australia; the other has to be Judith Wright’ (xviii). This is an extravagant contention, but it is not without foundation.

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