that glisten to the sun – gleaming himself whenever he moves, as if his wetted shell were breaking into flame.
Your parents brought you rootless into a land of grog and marsupials. Did you ever ask your father, Joseph, about his childhood in Kinsale? Or orientate yourself with stories of family lore, like those I heard – how, in the wake of Richard de Clare, we Harpurs came to Wexford? Or of your father’s coffin-voyage across the southern seas, to join the tribe of Sisyphus and forge the down-Underworld of Britain?
But you, convicted of your dream to be the laureate of your nation, transported yourself to a realm beyond the Blue Mountains and discovered … not ‘China’ – the Shangri-La of convict fantasies – but a dawn sky, trees moist with dew and glinting all with a dim silveriness; or the sinuous valley of the waters; or wide warm fields, glad with corn. You knew that nature had a sacred source even as a sunbeam’s fountain is the sun and tried to open people’s eyes. But all they saw was a fool of God, a voice de-crying in the wilderness, soul-dwarfing priesthoods and prone to drink, self-pity – yet seeing deep down into the life of things: