The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 4 (July 1, 1939)
New Zealand Verse
New Zealand Verse
All night there fell a rich gold rain of leaves;
Along the pavement and the windy street,
A rustling tide of ragged yellow flows,
And seethes like foam about the people's feet.
Old men have come with rakes and heavy brooms,
Their shoulders bowed, their foot-steps grave and slow,
They move across the lawns and scrape and sweep,
Pushing gold waves before them as they go.
The spoils are raked in heaps till coloured drifts,
Rusting and tarnished in the gutters lie;
The old men don their coats and move away—
The garbage carts will follow by and by.
And watching from his lonely vantage point,
I think perhaps Burns’ worn old statue grieves,
And gazing on a tidy, sobered street,
Yearns for the rich disorder of the leaves.
* * *
There's a moon abroad this evening that would witch away your soul,
Take a dander down the roadway, hear the Tasman breakers roll;
‘Neath the snow-clad Alpine splendour we'll be talking as we go
Of the folk at home in Ireland that we knew long years ago.
And to-night in peaceful moonlight all my thoughts are turned somehow
To the little whitewashed houses on the shore at Corriemough.
Where they answer “Save you kindly” to your breathed “God save all here,”
And the bare-foot, wide-eyed children watch the foreshore far and near.
While the green of Irish pasture, smooth and bright as ordered lawn,
Merges into purple shadow lying round the hills of Mourne.
Ah now, listen to me Mollie! Share a strolling singer's fire
And we'll wend our way together to the lovely land of Ire.
There's potatoes on the moorland and there's fish from out the sea
And a deep-thatched shining cottage as a home for you and me.
In the evening we will listen to the lapping of the tide
With the wavelets’ gentle gurgle up against the lugger's side;
And quite likely we'll be longing for South Westland as we stray
In the misty Irish twilight—half a happy world away.
* * *
String up the lanterns; we must have more light;
Let festooned bunting hide the rough-hewn beam;
Shake out the long-packed fineries; set the gleam
Of heirloom jewels on fair bosoms white.
Life's at the flood, the future rosv-bright;
Some hardships past, no matter; we'd not deem
Achievement easy; let the merry stream
Of dancers circle; we are gay to-night.
The evening wanes; and while the fiddles shrill
Mazy cotillon or discreet quadrille,
We sit at ease, and mellowed thoughts recall
Our courtship's happy days in cot or hall,
Here's to the land we left across the sea!
And here's to this, our children's, that's to be!
I saw them through the shadowy wood,
They beached their boat, and strangely stood.
In the pale shining of the moon,
Their sword-hilts gleamed as bright as noon.
So strange and silent did they stand,
Beholding all the sleeping land,
The pasture country, white as snow;
The sea, and port, and ships that go
To distant lands; the city still
As midnight there beneath her hill.
The leader doffed his hat, and stood
As though he found it very good.
So still they stood, still as a tree,
Until I, too, began to see
The whole land wrapped in sombre bush,
Enclothed in dark primeval hush,
And lying from out the rippled sand
The ship “Endeavour” at the strand.
So small a ship, and yet sublime,
To sail the long sea-roads of Time!
But while I saw, they turned away,
The east was grey with coming day,
And as they rowed across the sea
No sound of oars came back to me.
* * *
When warblers' wistful songs are sung,
And bellbirds' evening chimes have rung,
When stars light up the Milky Way
Ushering out the dying day,
May then each star up in the blue
Conspire in weaving dreams for you,
And moon infolding in her beams
Send unto you the sweetest dreams.
Then onward through the mystic night
May fairies bring you each delight,
And the scented whispering breeze
Sing you the sweetest melodies,
Until through gossamer and dew
The songbirds bring the dawn anew;
May then the sun's awakening beams
Transfix and give you all your dreams.