Daniel Deniehy the “graceful singer” admired the work of Charles Harpur (1813 - 1868), an early Australian poet who, like Fowler, gave J. Sheridan Moore a stab in the guts. “I was further induced to take the course I have followed, in consequence of the recent reproduction, in an obscure sectional weekly newspaper, of an illiberal criticism, by Mr. CHARLES HARPUR, on one of my poems, a criticism which I hope that gentleman will yet have the honesty and manliness to modify, and which, I am sure, the public will never endorse.” So he published Spring-Life. Where's that criticism now? I can't find it anywhere but Spring-Life has been uploaded as a .pdf by the University of Sydney. Left there like a sort of dropping deposited by the criticism.
He seems to have been easy to stab, Moore, a reactive and critical person, one who wanted standards applied, and hence his involvement with the Month, a literary journal that was supposed to set a nice tone in the colony, bringing him up against the will of Charles Harpur. "Moore was esteemed by some but condemned as a charlatan by the native-born members who distrusted him and F. E. T. Fowler because of their snobbish emigré valuation of literature propounded in the Month" (from The Austraian Dictionary of Biography).
Bertram Stevens puts him in a group with Deniehy and a few other poets. “D. H. Deniehy, Henry Halloran, J. Sheridan Moore and Richard Rowe contributed fairly good verse to the newspapers.” Bad praise but he added him to the Anthology anyway.
O the Night, the Night, the solemn Night,
When Earth is bound with her silent zone,
And the spangled sky seems a temple wide,
Where the star-tribes kneel at the Godhead's throne;
O the Night, the Night, the wizard Night,
When the garish reign of day is o'er,
And the myriad barques of the dream-elves come
In a brightsome fleet from Slumber's shore!
O the Night for me,
When blithe and free,
Go the zephyr-hounds on their airy chase;
When the moon is high
In the dewy sky,
And the air is sweet as a bride's embrace!
(from A Song for the Night)
Four verses Deniehy spends messing around like that before he gets to the punchline.
Wide is your flight,
O spirits of Night,
By strath, and stream, and grove,
But most in the gloom
Of the Poet's room
Ye choose, fair ones, to rove.
In between you have a dying baby and “heaps of slain” “on the battle plain,” which, if you take the poem seriously, should be disquieting, this poet bouncing past corpses so that he can climax with imaginary spirits in his room. They “rove,” they fly, they pass, they do nothing concrete; they are flâneurs but not interesting flâneurs since they see nothing with their own eyes; they are an atmosphere and Song for the Night is a prose atmosphere. The deaths are there because he has already mentioned lovers, “Love in their eyes, | Love in their sighs,” and the key to Night is metamorphosis, “sacred Night,” “charming Night,” “wizard Night.” There is love, then there is death; it is a dramatic contrast. The purpose of this poem is to make you wait while it goes past; it is like a piece of music with “night” as a motif. There are no lovers, there are no babies, the writer and the reader have to tacitly agree that none of these things exist, they are not even honestly suggested to have existed, they are nothing but a passing impression of flavour or smell; they are a bit of coloured dye in clear water. The words are supposed to sing, not mean and the challenge for the author is a strange kind of pure aesthetic challenge: can he detain a piece of your time for virtually no reason; can he demote or muffle boredom?