Charles Harpur

23 January 1813 – 10 June 1868 / Windsor, New South Wales

To The Comet Of 1843

Thy purpose, heavenly stranger, who may tell
But Him, who linked thee to the starry whole?
Wherefore, in this our darkness, be it ours
To must upon thee in thy high career,
As of some wandering symphony from amidst
Those highest stellar harmonies that track
Through infinite space and the great rounds of time
The mighty marches of creation.
Behold, how high thou travellest in heaven!
Myriads of wondering human spirits here,
Duly each night with upturned looks seek out
The mystery of thy advent.
In thy last
Bright visitation, even thus thou saw’st
The young, the lovely, and the wise of earth—
A buried generation—crowding out,
With looks upturned, to see thee passing forth
Beyond the signs of time—and then to know,
In all the awful vastness of the heaven,
Thy place no more! And when the flaming steps
Of thy unspeakable speed, which of itself
Blows back the long strands of thy burning hair
Through half the arch of night, shall lead thee forth
Into the dim of the inane, beyond
Our utmost vision; all the eloquent eyes
Now opened wide with welcome and with wonder—
Eyes tender as the turtle’s, or that speak
The fervent soul and the majestic mind;
All these, alas!—all these, ere thou once more
Shalt drive thus fulgently around the sun
Thy chariot of fire, fast closed in dust
And mortal darkness, shall have given for aye
Their lustre to the grave.

But human eyes
As many and beautiful—yea, more sublime
And radiant in their passion, from a more
Enlarged communion with the spirit of truth,—
Shall welcome thee instead, mysterious stranger,
When thou return’st anew.

And thus to think
Consoles us, even while we watch thee pass
Out of our times for ever; yea, although
Some selfish entertainment of a truth
At all times mournful, whisper us the while:
So shall it be indeed, for God abides,
And nature, born of His eternal power,
Must share its dateless energy as well.
Yea, all that flows from the Eternal must,
If from divine necessity alone,
Work with its cause for ever—still, alas!
Though thence derived, how fugitive and swift,
How vague and shadow-like, this life of Man!
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