The Godwits Fly
1. From J. B. Leishman's translations of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘There Where The Line Of Cottages.…’ Poems. Hogarth Press. 1934. (Published some years after the period in which The Godwits Fly is set!)
2. The poet was Rachel Annand Taylor, and the verse should be:
(Ah sleep, sleep!
The gods of beauty crave in the Spring
From out of the world's white flowering
Some delicate thing to keep.
Sleep, Sweet, sleep!)
This verse, which Robin Hyde came across in the Sydney Public Library in 1926, haunted her for many years and she quoted it frequently. It came from a poem, ‘Four Crimson Violers’ in a small book called Rose and Vine, published by Elkin Matthews, London, in 1909. Rachel Annand Taylor (1876-1960) was far from unknown in her day, although her reputation as a writer suffered an eclipse after the 1930s. Robin Hyde's misquotation is understandable here, as it is unlikely that many copies of Rose and Vine reached New Zealand, or that the poems enjoyed a wide circulation.