The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 1, 1933)
Napier in Verse
February 3rd, 1931.
There was no thought of sorrow in town that Summer day;
Tall ships were in the port, and a cruiser in the Bay;
The folk were gay and brightly clad, and each fond gossip greets
Her happy friends, and all was blithe in shops and crowded streets.
The bells had called to worship within the sacred fane—
(“O, spare us, tender Jesu, and give surcease of pain”).
All in their mood were tranquil and the day serene and bright,
When sudden as a thunderclap doom came with fearful might.
In travail and in labour, the tortured terrain shakes
Upheaving force lifts wood and stone, and, as a giant, breaks
The mighty beams. The soaring spires are rocked and buildings fall,
And swift, devouring flame leaps high beyond the smoking pall.
We tread a path of sadness, ‘mid groans of those in pain—
(“O, rampant Death, what reaping thy scythe is to obtain!“).
Numbing, the rending shocks recur; yet, at the onset main,
O splendid deeds! O tender ruth! What love and courage reign!
And, on the sad to-morrow, a town of bleak despair,
A stark, black wreck with rocking walls and ruin everywhere
Save in the hearts of those who strove and dared dread Fate to take
From them their Heritage of Hope, which nothing could abate.
The touch of Time, that with a tender grace Lulls the said grief for loved one called away,
Doth now conspire some mellowed thought to trace,
Giving us solace on our earthly way.
Haply the pile that we, with loving hands,
Hath raised o'er them, their monument to be,
Calls the lone stranger, who, in passing, scans
To raise a prayer, to voice his sympathy.
The loving heart that in this anxious breast
Is now resigned and keeps no thought of fear,
E'en waits alone to hear God's kind behest
That bids him join again the loved one dear.
From the pain I was called to endure
I have risen again in my pride,
With the Sun for a vesture of gold,
With the ambient Sea for my bride.
I am proud of my structures complete,
My roadways so gracious and wide;
And the joy, and the joy of my guests shall be great
In the welcome that I shall provide.
For the splendour I now can command
And the glory that lives in my home,
I can grant to my people the praise
For the courage and love they have shown.
Faithful watch have they kept for my sake,
Whilst no asking of mine has been vain.
They have come, they have come, to my uttermost call,
Striv'n and suffered, again and again.
Stately buildings of shapely design,
With beauty in structure and tone,
The sweetness of verdurous shade
Are part of the joy that I own;
But the greatest of all that is mine,
Which attained to the uttermost goal,
Is the pioneer's glorious gift to his son—
“A steadfast, unconquerable soul.”
Come to me from the East and the West,
Over seas and through outermost foam.
Proud ships I shall welcome again
When they come to my bountiful home.
No trace of my grief will you find
(It is lost in the land of my dreams).
You shall sport in my surf and your body shall glow
In my sun and find health in its beams.
We of the breed who, stricken low, doth rise
To fight again, tho’ fainting, sick with pain;
Do thank thee, Lord, that tho’ the body dies
The soul doth live to take the greater gain.
Forgive us, Lord, if we who should be meek
Are swollen in our pride for small things done.
Keep us in humbled ways; teach us to speak
In accents low for dread of what my come.
For mercies great and joys that all doth find,
For shining sun and beneficient rain,
For tossing seas beneath the laughing wind;
For these, Thy gifts, we thank Thee, Lord, again.
Yet as we bow our heads within Thy gate,
Make it not hard lest we should loose the cord.
Grant us to keep Thy Law inviolate
Till death. Have mercy on Thy People, Lord.
“Great things thro’ the greatest hazards are achieved, And then they shine.”
(Rly. Publicity photos.)
The New Napier.—Views of the town, the harbour and Marine Parade.
“I was always a lover of soft-winged things.“—Victor Hugo.
(Photos, courtesy A. F. Blackett.)
The famous Gannet Rookery at Cape Kidnappers, Napier, New Zealand.