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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 1. 1964.

Some Pretty Pebbles..

Some Pretty Pebbles...

Despite its unobtrusive appearance. Miss Rawlinson's latest collection of poetry is most attractive in content, format and printing. It reveals a maturity of style, a sureness and subtlety of touch that are as stimulating as they are unexpected.

It will probably be generally agreed that Miss Rawlinson is not a major writer even by New Zealand standards; this new work will not seriously challenge that contention. But if much of the contribution of the minor poet is towards the consolidation of the literary scene, the formation of a background to evaluation and an atmosphere for further creation, then this book says much for the health and growth of the New Zealand tradition.

Of Clouds and Pebbles is the work of a vigorous and skilful artist, who is perhaps most successful in shorter, tightly integrated pieces. Certainly there is lacking that expansion, that grandness of manner, heard in the voice of a major poet as he grapples with a great theme. But Miss Rawlinson has the humility to remain with the more easily cultivated fields that she knows so well. Most readers will be glad to follow her there.

Her limitations should not be thought to detract from the originality of her ideas and her approach. These poems are often intriguing, sometimes droll, sometimes beautiful; there is a fine consciousness of scene and colour, and a great inventiveness of sound. The tone is varied and constantly interesting:

"The gnome whose counter is a mouldering log,

Keeps for exhibit pale green parasols . . ."


"It was prisoner of that bird, said the Cage . . ."

Only occasionally does an effect prove false, or a poem remain disappointing through some fatal uncertainty in technique.

The poems fall into several groups: some are colloquial dialogues, others almost metaphysical reflections. Nearly all evoke a subtle use of allegory. But the whole work is hardened and unified by the twin forces in this poetry: "the unknowingness of cloud," the reality of pebbles, "ancient, stubborn, stolid, round." Seldom is a poem without some hint of the tension between delusion and the truth, the expected and the found, the beautiful and the ugly. These are the elements of Miss Rawlinson's work; the reader of the title poem may well believe that she, too, has "once tuned them into amity."