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James K. Baxter Complete Prose Volume 4

The Jerusalem Years — 1969-1972

The Jerusalem Years



The rosary; a meditation; in NZT XCVI.1 (8 Jan. 1969) 16.

St Dominic (1170-1221) was born in Spain. After completing his theological studies he joined a Catholic religious order known as the Canons Regular when he was twenty-five years old. While preaching in France he felt called to establish a new religious order. And so the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) was born. It was approved by Pope Honorius III in 1216-17. The order, led by Dominic, was at the head of the Catholic Church’s campaign against heresy which became known as the Inquisition. By his preaching and personal example, Dominic advocated prayer, apostolic poverty, silence, fasting and other Penances. Having refused a bed, while lying upon sacking on the ground, he died at the age of fifty-one. Through his preaching and that of his followers the practice of reciting the rosary spread throughout Europe.

Alan de Rupe (1428-75) joined the Dominican order. After distinguishing himself at his studies at St Jacques, Paris, he taught at Paris, Lille, Douay, Ghent, and in Rostock, Germany. He was also a famous preacher, and was especially committed to preaching about and advocating the devotion of the rosary.

Walsingham, a village in Norfolk, is famous for its shrines of Mary and as a centre of pilgrimage. Its fame began in 1061 when a noblewoman, faithful to a vision, arranged for the construction of a replica of the house at Nazareth in which Jesus, Mary and Joseph had lived. Subsequently Walsingham became a great place of pilgrimage for people from throughout England and Europe. Among the visitors were seven English kings. In 1538 the shrine and priory were despoliated and destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII and a quantity of gold and silver was taken to London for the use of the king. In the previous year nine members of the religious community and two lay choristers who had resisted the king’s takeover were hanged, drawn and quartered. After thepage 380 destruction the site of the shrine was sold for ninety pounds and a privately owned mansion was built there. In 1897 Pope Leo XIII donated a statue for ‘the restored ancient sanctuary of Our Lady of Walsingham’. This was housed in a fourteenth-century building now referred to as ‘the Slipper chapel’. Catholic pilgrimages recommenced in 1897. In 1921 an Anglican Marian shrine was established at Walsingham and an annual Anglican national pilgrimage now takes place.


Problem of the old is sadness . . . but it may be a fruitful sadness; in NZT XCVI.2 (15 Jan. 1969) 20.


In my View [6]; in NZL 1528 (24 Jan. 1969) 10. See letter by Bruce Mason, NZL 1534 (7 Mar. 1969) 5. John Waititi was born in 1926. He attended Te Aute College before graduating BA from Auckland University. He served in World War Two with the Māori Battalion. After the war he attended Auckland Teachers’ Training College and then began his life’s work as a teacher and educational officer. A forceful advocate of education as the best means of helping Māori, his energy and achievements were legendary.

When JKB mentioned the possibility of a Pākehā adopting a Māori way of life he had already left Dunedin.


Prophet to Artist; review of Collected Longer Poems, by W.H. Auden. London: Faber and Faber, 1968; in NZL 1529 (31 Jan. 1969) 18.

began as a prophet of the Cause and ended as an artist writing about art: the ‘Cause’ was Communism or, more broadly, social justice. When JKB criticised Auden for apparently abandoning his interest in truth and justice he was aware that he himself was less concerned about art and more concerned about presenting truth as he understood it.


Society Accentuates the Strains on Youth; in MM XXXIX.1-2 (Feb. 1969) 4-7.


Drama among the Faceless; an interview with Arthur Baysting; in NZL 1530 (7 Feb. 1969) 9.

Introductory note: ‘While he held the Burns Fellowship in Dunedin in 1966 and 1967 James K. Baxter wrote a number of plays which were staged at the Globe Theatre under Patric Carey. His new radio play, “Who Killed Sebastian?” will be broadcast as part of a double bill in the YC Programme on Friday, February 14, at 8.37 p.m. along with his “Mr Brandywine Chooses a Gravestone” first broadcast in 1968.’


The Old and the New; in NZT XCVI.8 (26 Feb. 1969) 13.

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Abstract on Prejudice; review of Race: a Christian symposium, edited by Clifford S. Hill and David Matthews. London: Gollancz, 1968; in NZL 1533 (28 Feb. 1969) 20.


The Winter of God; in MM XXXIX.3 (Mar. 1969) 15-17.


Golden age of devotional writings; review of The Agony of the Church, by Theo Weston. London: Sheed & Ward, 1968; Servants of the Lord, by Karl Rahner. London: Burns & Oates, 1968; and The Fifteenth Station, by Anita Roper (with an epilogue by Karl Rahner). London: Burns & Oates, 1968; in NZT XCVI.10 (12 Mar. 1969) 22.


Dry Apples; review of Collected Poems, by Lawrence Durrell (second edition). London: Faber and Faber, 1968; in NZL 1535 (14 Mar. 1969) 20.

‘Io’ probably reminded JKB of Durrell’s great poem ‘A Portrait of Theodora’ which had provided him (JKB) with a launching-pad for his poem ‘Pyrrha’ in CP 52 as Section 14, ‘As kites rise up against the wind’ of ‘Songs of the Desert’.


In my View [7]; in NZL 1536 (21 Mar. 1969) 14.


Simply Exotic; review of Opium and the Romantic Imagination, by Alethea Hayter. London: Faber and Faber, 1968; in NZL 1539 (11 Apr. 1969) 20.

Alethea Hayter (1911-2006)attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, before joining the staff of Country Life. She published eight books but nothing in her list suggests why she should write this book on opium. However her mind may have been stirred by the fact that she spent her childhood in Egypt. She also edited an edition of Thomas de Quincy’s Confessions of an Opium Eater.


In my View [8]; in NZL 1540 (18 Apr. 1969) 15.


A true monk and a true Christian; review of Thomas Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. London: Burns & Oates, 1969; in NZT XCVI.16 (23 Apr. 1969) 22-23.


To be a Jew; review of The Non-Jewish Jew and other essays, by Isaac Deutscher. London: Oxford University Press, 1968; in NZL 1544 (16 May 1969) 20.

Isaac Deutscher (1907-67), born in Poland of Jewish parents, became an English journalist and a Marxist Trotskyite, best known, perhaps, for his biographies of Stalin (1949) and Trotsky (three volumes between 1954 and 1963). JKB may have been impressed by the following extract:

Religion? I am an atheist. Jewish nationalism? I am an internationalist. In neither sense am I therefore a Jew. I am, however, a Jew by force of my page 382unconditional solidarity with the persecuted and exterminated. I am a Jew because I feel the pulse of Jewish history, because I should like to do all I can to assure the real, not spurious, security and self-respect of the Jews.

Among JKB’s papers is an unfinished manuscript ‘To be Maori’ which may have been influenced by Deutscher. I wanted to include it but it was largely illegible. It was also such an early draft that it was not possible to determine what the final version would have been.


In my View [9]; in NZL 1545 (23 May 1969) 15.


Into the Hearts of the Poor; review of New Poems 1967, a PEN Anthology of contemporary poetry, edited by Harold Pinter, John Fuller, and Peter Redgrove. London: Hutchinson, 1968; and Twenty Poems of Pablo Neruda, translated by James Wright and Robert Bly. London: Rapp and Whiting, 1968; in NZL 1548 (13 June 1969) 20.

Pablo Neruda (1904-73): his name was a pseudonym for Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, Chilean poet and activist. In 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature controversially because of his leftist politics. When Communism was outlawed in 1948 he went into exile, returning only when Salvador Allende was elected president. In August 1973 Allende appointed Augusto Pinochet commander-in-chief of the army but Pinochet, aided by the CIA, led a coup against the president in the following month. At that time Neruda was dying in hospital of cancer. Pinochet refused permission for a public funeral but thousands of people still crowded the streets in the first protest against the military regime.

James [Arlington] Wright (1927-80) was influenced early by Spanish language poets. This both affected his own poetry and encouraged him to translate non-English poetry. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems (1971).

Robert Bly (1926- ), poet, editor, translator, received many awards for his forty books of poetry and many books of translation. He has introduced 22 European and South American poets to readers of English language poetry.


[On Pain]; in Lawlor, The Two Baxters, 65-67, 20 June 1969.

Lawlor was planning to issue a book entitled ‘Brotherhood of Pain’ and invited JKB to contribute to it. Lawlor’s source folder ‘The Problem of Pain and Evil’ is contained in ‘John Weir and Pat Lawlor Papers’, MB 1976 Item 2 Box 10A.

Lawlor’s diary entry for 20 June 1969 follows:

When Jim called the other day I told him about my ‘Brotherhood of Pain’, the title I have in mind for my study of pain or suffering, relating to famous writers. Knowing the mental anguish that had come his way on several occasions I suggested he might join my list of contributors. Today hepage 383 brought in his thoughts on the subject which on reading I was delighted – a truly Baxter exploration, on a par with one not so lengthy I had received from Anthony Burgess who in many ways reminds me of Jim.

‘Anthony Burgess’ was the pen name of John Anthony Burgess Wilson (191793), English writer, critic, musician and linguist, especially famous for his 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange.

the house of Rimmon: JKB refers to a Bible passage (2 Kings 5:18) in which Naaman asks Yahweh for forgiveness, through the prophet Elisha, for entering a temple dedicated to a pagan deity.


In my View [10]; in NZL 1550 (27 June 1969) 14.

‘paradisal judges’: when JKB used this phrase he seemed to be writing from memory. There are a number of references to mountains in Ursula Bethell’s poetry but if he had in mind a particular poem when he described the mountains as ‘paradisal judges’ he may have been thinking of some lines from ‘Southerly Sunday’: ‘and high lifted up to the north, the mountains, the mighty, the white ones’. The poem continues ‘This sparkling day is the Lord’s day . . . . he cometh to judge and redeem his beautiful universe’ (Ursula Bethell, Collected Poems. Edited by Vincent O’Sullivan. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997. p. 46).

Men Aspiring, by Paul Powell (Wellington, Auckland [etc.]: Reed, [1967]).


A Problem of Authorship; in Mate no. 17 (July 1969) 32-35.


Preface [to The Rock Woman, selected poems]. London, New York, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1969.

The book was reviewed in NZT XCVI.41 (15 Oct. 1969) 30, by Frank McKay; London Magazine ns. IX.7 (Oct. 1969) 92, by Julian Symonds; Craccum XLIV.1 (5 Mar. 1970) 8; and Comment 40 (Apr. 1970) 22, by J.E. Weir; Journal of Commonwealth Literature 9 (July 1970) 128, by Kendrick Smithyman; Poetry (Chicago) (May 1971) 101, by Mark Mcloskey; and LF XXV (1971) 198, 203, 212, by Owen Leeming.

The Rock Woman was reprinted in 1971.

The Weir Papers hold copies of the inhouse correspondence of OUP regarding this book. In a letter dated 4 April 1968 from Jon Stallworthy (OUP, publisher, England) to R.G. (Ralph) Gooderidge (Oxford NZ manager), Stallworthy considered that the Preface struck ‘a disturbingly truculent note’ (MB 1184, Box 4, Item 1). This is the passage to which he objected:

On the whole I have tended to leave out of this selection the most frequently anthologised pieces except where they were obviously also my best poems. In this respect one’s taste is variable. To hear a particular poem praised by a pedagogue or a bigot makes one suspect it a little.

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JKB’s original numbered selection follows, with an annotation (F) to indicate whether his original choice remained in the final selection made by Stallworthy:

IO lands seen in the light of an inhuman dawn; Rushes; Hill-Country; Cry Mourn; Love-Lyric V (F); Love-Lyric VIII; Love-Lyric IX (F); For Those Who Lie with Crooked Limbs in the Strait Grave
IISea Noon (F); Winter Morning; The Bay (F); The Cave (F); Let Time Be Still (F); Haast Pass (F); Elegy for my Father’s Father (F); Farmhand; A Modern Calvinist Considers the Bringing Up of Children; He Revisits Old Haunts; Elegy for an Unknown Soldier (F)
IIIVirginia Lake (F); Rocket Show (F); Wild Bees (F); Poem in the Matukituki Valley (F); The Fallen House; The Surfman’s Story; The Homecoming (F); Book of the Dead; Jack the Swagger’s Song; The Bad Young Man; Elegy at the Year’s End (F)
IVLament for Barney Flanagan (F); Crossing Cook Strait (F); The Rock Woman (F); Host and Stranger (F); Song; Auckland; The Return; At Hokianga (F); To a Travelling Friend (F); Green Figs at Table; At Akitio
VPrizegiving Speech; A Rope for Harry Fat; The Advantages of Not Being Educated; A Prospect of Old Age (F); Elephanta (F); She Who is Like the Moon; On the Death of Her Body (F); Election 1960; Tudor Poem; Ballad of Calvary Street (F); The Sixties
VIThe Cold Hub (F); The Harlot (F); The Tree; A Shout in Gaza; A Family Photograph 1939 (F); A Takapuna Business Man Considers His Son’s Death in Korea (F); Thoughts of a Remuera Housewife (F); Tomcat (F); Great-Uncles and Great-Aunts (F); To a Print of Queen Victoria (F)
VIISeven Year Old Poet (F); The First Communions (F); The Cherry Tree (F); Guy Fawkes Night (F); New Zealand (F); On Reading Yevtushenko (F); Fishermen (F); The Waves (F); An Undelivered Address to a Catholic Reading Group; Encounter with Venus; To a House Spider Building in an Outdoor Lavatory; Ode

Stallworthy approved of only forty of the seventy-four poems proposed by JKB for the selection. He pointed out to Gooderidge that JKB proposed including only seven poems from Pig Island Letters in contrast to twenty-page 385three from In Fires of No Return. (Both JKB and OUP anticipated issuing a further edition of Pig Island Letters but Stallworthy did not think that this would occur for another two or three years.) Stallworthy rejected some poems because he considered them inferior to other work (he and Gooderidge concurred in the view that JKB was not ‘the best judge of his own poetry’ and hoped that I would be able to work with JKB in the final selection). Others were rejected because they were unsuitable for the proposed schools market. Stallworthy included twelve extra poems from Pig Island Letters (1966). These were sections 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, 13 of the title sequence, and ‘The Watch’, ‘Waipatiki Beach’, ‘At Rotorua’, ‘Henley Pub’ and ‘A Wish for Berries’.

Stallworthy’s assistant Steven Cegledy was later known as Steven Sedley, when he operated a Lower Hutt bookshop.


Baxter: Not How, Man – but Why? Life Among the Junkies; (newspaper article by Neil Illingworth); in ODT (2 Aug. 1969) 20.

JKB composed a verse metaphor of his chaotic world in ‘Ballad of the Junkies and the Fuzz’ (CP 442). The poem was originally published as a broadsheet (Wellington, Wai-te-ata Press, 1970). Comprising four pages, it was issued in a limited edition of four hundred copies.

a mini-Tim Leary: Timothy Francis Leary (1920-96), US psychologist and counter-cultural icon, enthusiastically advocated the therapeutic effects of LSD. Apart from wanting to find a way out of ‘the rat-race’ he had virtually nothing in common with JKB.


Poet calls for ‘truce’ on marihuana; written by Michael King and published in the Waikato Times on 4 September 1969. This copy is located in VUW Library MS McKay 33/7/15.

King sent McKay a copy of it with the following note: ‘Frank: this is a teaser for a lengthy piece I did for the Waikato Times in 1969 on JKB’s work in Auckland. Unfortunately I didn’t date it, and I no longer have the full article. But I shall TELL you about the circumstances.’ (King’s capitalisation of TELL seems significant, as if he was unwilling to commit his reminiscence to paper.)

The therapeutic use of marihuana has long been advocated by some health professionals.


The two realities; in NZT XCVI.31 (6 Aug. 1969) 12.


In my View [11]; in NZL 1556 (8 Aug. 1969) 15.


Poet Defends Scum; Waikato Times, 4 Sep. 1969.

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Viewpoint: James K. Baxter, Poet and social worker; in Craccum XLIII.11 (11 Sep. 1969) 7.


In my View [12]; in NZL 1561 (12 Sep. 1969) 15.


The World of the Junkie; Thursday Magazine (30 Aug. 1969) pp. 10-13.

This reported interview by Bernadette Noble is basically an introduction to the main piece – her story-commentary on Baxter’s poem ‘Ballad of the Junkies and the Fuzz’. The poem is dedicated ‘To Hoani’, i.e. to JKB’s son John.


Our Lady; NZT XCVI.45 (12 Nov. 1969) 20. Subtitled ‘A meditation by James K. Baxter’. Charles Davis (1923-99) was such a highly regarded English theologian that he was invited to attend the Second Vatican Council as a ‘peritus’ (expert). At the time he was professor of theology at Heythrop College, Oxfordshire, and editor of the Clergy Review. On 30 December 1968, having been a priest for twenty years, he announced at a news conference that he was leaving the Catholic Church and marrying Florence Henderson, an American woman. In his book A Question of Conscience (1967) he explained that his reason for abandoning Catholicism was that he could no longer abide the closed nature of the institution which prevented an open development of religious faith. After his defection he taught in the Department of Religion at Concordia University (Canada) from 1970 to 1978 and then at Lonergan University College from 1978 to 1991. He was the author of several books and many articles.


There’s joy in this grief; in MM XXXIX.12 (Dec. 1969) 21.

the old woman I loved: JKB was referring to his mother-in-law.


The holy souls; in NZT XCVI.48 (3 Dec. 1969) 33.


Submission to the Committee on Drug Dependency and Drug Abuse; Dated ‘22.12.69’.

In 1968 the Board of Health established a committee ‘to enquire into and report on drug abuse and drug dependency in New Zealand’. Some of JKB’s ideas were considered in Drug Dependency and Drug Abuse in New Zealand, (Board of Health, First Report 16 February 1970). McKay (p. 252) mentions that JKB made a second submission in 1971 but I have not found a copy of it. This second round of submissions resulted in the second drug report, which was published on 14 October 1971.

James Kebbell was, at this time, Catholic chaplain to students at Massey University. Educated at Holy Cross College, Dunedin, and Cambridgepage 387 University, he was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Wellington. However his public opposition to the Vietnam War was a factor which caused him to become at odds with Church authorities and he left the priesthood. Subsequently he became engaged in a variety of positions: he ran a halfway house for recently released prisoners and people released from mental institutions; he was a regional organiser for the Labour Party for a time; with his wife Marion Wood he ran a small farm; and in 1991 they founded Commonsense Organics, a successful food retail business in Wellington. In the 2008 national elections he stood for parliament as a member of the Green Party.


Dialogue with the Beloved One; Weir Papers, MB 599, Item 14, Box 3. Est. date.

A version of this dialogue, with slight variants, was published in Mike Riddell’s ‘Baxter the Mystic’ in Tui Motu InterIslands (Dec. 2001) 22. In the accompanying article Riddell pointed out that the dialogue had a relationship with some of his poems, e.g. Jerusalem Sonnets 21 and 36. JKB used the dialogue form as early as 30 May 1961 when he sent me a copy of ‘Dialogue of Christ and the Soul’.

The poems in Jerusalem Sonnets were addressed to JKB’s friend Colin Durning. In 1969, while he was lecturing at the Dental School at the University of Otago, he received JKB’s gift of the sonnets along with the suggestion that they be published. Out of modesty Durning felt unsure about this, because the poems were addressed to him, but Dr Maslen of the Bibliography Room offered to publish them, if Durning paid the costs. As a result, in 1970 five hundred copies were printed with the title Jerusalem Sonnets: poems for Colin Durning. These were distributed in January 1971. This edition was quickly followed by two more printings which produced an additional two thousand copies.

The book was reviewed in LF, XXV (1971) 21, by D.C. Walker; and Craccum, XLV.2 (11 Mar. 1971) 10.


Letters to a Priest [first series]; University of Canterbury, Weir Papers, MB 1184, Item 4/1, Box 14. This copy closes with a typewritten date ‘December, 1969’.

Epikeia: a principle in ethics or moral theology that an action is reasonable, or that a law or regulation can be broken, if the result is a greater good.

‘Canticle of the Sun’ (or ‘Laudes Creaturarum’) is the title of a song said to have been composed by St Francis of Assisi in 1224. When he was dying in the presence of two companions a further verse was added praising Sister Death. Tradition says that the entire song was then sung for the first time. JKB wrote his own version of it. (‘The Song of the Sun’, CP 486), adding to the original version:

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Father Francis, pray for us
That we may rejoice with you in holy poverty
And follow you into the garden of the King.

He recited this song at the beginning of the rosary which he usually recited daily.

Angelus: The prayer formerly recited by Catholics at noon which is based upon the dialogue between Mary and the angel – the latter announcing that she was to bear a child who would be the Son of God.

Maria [Teresa] Goretti (1890-1902) is a martyr of the Catholic Church. When she was eleven years old a young man tried to have sex with her but she refused because it would be a sin and, consequently, displeasing to God. He then killed her by stabbing her fourteen times. She was canonised on 24 June 1950 in the presence of a congregation of half a million people in St Peter’s Piazza. Her mother and the man who tried to rape her were present.

Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (c. 293-373) argued cogently against the Arian doctrine that Jesus was not the Son of God. As a consequence the authority of the Roman Empire was deployed against him: five times he was exiled by successive emperors who favoured the Arian position. Attempts were made to arrest him and kill him. But he maintained his position and Arianism was eventually declared heretical. The expression ‘Athanasius contra mundum’ means ‘Athanasius against the world’.

Pentecostals: the expression means ‘relating to Pentecost’ (when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and brought them spiritual gifts). Pentecostal Churches or individuals emphasise the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual or community. It is frequently accompanied by emotion. The equivalent movement in the Catholic Church is called ‘charismatic’, emphasising the charisms or gifts of the Spirit. JKB became somewhat Pentecostal or charismatic late in his life, associating with Catholics and non-Catholics who expressed their faith in this manner. His late piece of writing, Thoughts about the Holy Spirit, gives expression to this.

Skull Hill: another name for the hill of Calvary, Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified. It is so called, apparently, because the hill looked a little like a skull from a distance.

Semi-Pelagian: Pelagius (354-420/40), a British monk, denied the doctrine of Original Sin, thereby affirming that human beings achieve their own salvation. This was condemned as heretical by the Council of Carthage (418). Semipelagianism was the name given retrospectively to a attempts to achieve a compromise between Pelagianism and the teaching of the Church (e.g. St Augustine) that salvation comes from God’s grace. Semipelagianists claimed that the beginning of faith occurs as the result of an act of human free will, while growth in faith is God’s work. This opinion was declared heretical at the Second Council of Orange (529).

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Where are our Father Groppis? James Groppi (1930-85) was a priest, community worker and civil rights activist. Of Italian-American extraction, he was born and worked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his years of seminary training he worked with disadvantaged black youth and after his ordination in 1959 he became involved in the civil rights movement. He joined the Washington march (1963) and the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965). That year he became adviser to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP) Youth Council which organised protests against segregation. Other campaigns followed, including protests against segregated housing and judges who belonged to whites-only organisations. He also organised a dramatic protest on behalf of welfare mothers. He was attacked, arrested and sometimes imprisoned. His religious superiors failed to support him so he left the Church in 1976 and married. For a time he considered becoming a priest in the Episcopalian Church but decided that having lived as a Catholic for so many years he could not in conscience join another Church. He made his living as a bus driver until his death.

Incarnation: God taking flesh and becoming human. The birth of Jesus Christ, simultaneously a human being and the Son of God.

Parable of the Vine: in the Gospel of John, 15. 1-17.

Manichees: the Manichees were disciples of Mani who was born in the Middle East in the 3rd century A.D. Mani preached a synthetic dualist doctrine which declared that matter was evil and that there was a perpetual struggle between spirit and matter (light and dark). Christians interpreted the Fall (and personal sin) as the result of a weak will but Mani rejected this, claiming that matter was inherently corrupt. This teaching resulted in the doctrine of the Elect who were chosen as God’s people, saved by their celibacy and austerity. Other people were sinners and destined for Hell. By the end of the fifth century the movement’s influence in Europe was no longer significant.

Onan: in the book of Genesis, Onan withdrew from Tamar during sex and spilt his semen on the ground to ensure that she did not become pregnant, thus displeasing God, who killed Onan for his disobedience.

in flagrante delicto: literally ‘with the crime still blazing’. More loosely, ‘red-handed’; or ‘while committing the offence’.

Peter Olds, playwright and poet and friend of JKB: see SB.

Mariolatry: devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as an intermediary to God.

Kerygma: the proclaiming of religious truth, especially as found in the Gospel.

Eschatology: asection oftheology concerned withthe final eventsinhistory or the lives of human beings.

Paul cherished Timothy: Paul wrote two letters to Timothy whom he addressed in 1 Timothy 1 as ‘true child of mine’.

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The advantages of failure; in NZT XCVII.1 (7 Jan. 1970) 9, 11.

Confiteor: The formulaic prayer used by Catholics to confess their sins to God. It begins ‘Confiteor Deo omnipotenti . . .’ (I confess to Almighty God . . .).


[Lord, always the same weariness!]; Weir Papers, MB 1184, Item 1/5, Box 2. Est. date.

I incorporated this item into an article entitled ‘Between the Hammer and the Anvil: James K. Baxter on the Theology of Community’ which was published in the Australasian Catholic Record (vol. 58 no. 2, Apr. 1981, and vol. 63 no. 2, Apr. 1986). See Weir Papers MB 1184 (8, Published Material). A typescript of the article is located in Weir Papers. MB 1184 Item 1/5 Box 2. Relevant material is also contained in MB 1976, Item 3, Box 4.


Civilisation and drugs; (letter to editor); in NZL 1578 (16 Jan. 1970) 4. The letter was written from Jerusalem. Dr H[arold] B[ertram] Turbott (1899-1988) was a doctor, health administrator and publicist. In 1947 he was appointed deputy director of health, becoming director general in 1959. Known as ‘the radio doctor’, between 1943 and 1984 he gave weekly radio broadcasts on health matters. Copies of his talks were distributed to the print media.


Sin and sickness; in NZT XCVII.5 (11 Feb. 1970) 26-27. Hocken MS-0975/133.

Our brother Francis: St Francis of Assisi.


Poet looks at pakeha phobias; [an interview by Michael King]; in The Times (Waikato) Weekend Comment and Opinion (14 Feb. 1970) 22.

King sent a copy of the interview to Frank McKay sometime after JKB’s death in 1972. He annotated the copy ‘Interview I did with JKB in 1970 – just after he went to Jerusalem. It’s more a case of recording his monologue.’ This item is located in McKay Collection: Box 9; Item 9/1.


Madness and Sanity; in MM XL.3 (Mar. 1970) 5-7.


Some Comments on the Use of Drugs; in Dialectic no. 4 (Mar. 1970) 5. Dialectic was the journal of the University Catholic Society of New Zealand.

‘Canticle of the Sun’: A Version of JKB’s ‘The Song of the Sun’ (CP 486).

Charitas: An encyclical of Pope Pius VI on the civil oath in France was promulgated on 13 April 1791. It was composed in Latin, but its English translation begins ‘Love, which is patient and kindly, as the Apostle Paul says . . .’. In accordance with custom its title was drawn from its openingpage 391 word or words. In this case it was called ‘Charitas’. The commoner current usage in Catholic circles is ‘Caritas’.


Letters to a Priest [second series]; Weir Papers, MB 1184, Item 4/1, Box 14. Dated March, 1970.

The Hocken Library holds a copy: MS-0975/119.

E— is Father Eugene O’Sullivan O.P. of Newman Hall, the University of Auckland Catholic Centre, 16 Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland 1.

Three Cheers for the Paraclete: The title of a satirical novel by Thomas Keneally (1935-) based upon a period when Keneally trained at St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly, to become a Catholic priest. The novel was published in Sydney by Angus and Robertson in 1968 and was awarded the 1968 Miles Franklin Award and (in 1969) the C. Weichhardt Award for Australian Literature. It describes someone who is torn between the conflicting demands of his humanity and his priesthood.

Alleluia Amene: JKB used the refrain ‘Alleluia. Adonai’ in ‘Song to the Lord God on a Spring Morning’ (CP 591).


[Sermon]; Hocken, MS-0975/155. Est. date.

Father Wiremu Te Awhitu, resident parish priest at Jerusalem, frequently asked JKB to deliver the homily at Sunday Mass. Two of them are included in this book to serve as examples. A group of his sermons is found in Weir Papers, MB 1184, Item 4/1, Box 14.

Wiremu Hakopa Toa Te Awhitu (1914-94) was a grandson of Io Te Awhitu, a celebrated chief of Ngāti Toa. He was descended from the Tainui Canoe and partly from the Aotea Canoe. Wiremu’s mother Katarina Te Waihanea was renowned for her beauty. He was educated at St Peter’s Māori College, Auckland (1931-32) and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream (1932-35) before undertaking studies for the priesthood at Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Greenmeadows. He was ordained, the first Māori Catholic priest, on 17 December 1944. From 1945 to 1968 he worked in the Māori mission field in Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, although after a severe stroke in 1958 he spent some years recuperating in the community at Hato Paora College, Feilding. Afterwards he did not fully regain the ability to speak clearly or at length but his sermons were remembered for their brief sentences and strong impact. He was appointed to Jerusalem in August 1968, just before JKB arrived there, staying until 1988. He retired in 1989, first living with his sister at Otara, then shifting with her to the family farm and pā at Okahukura. He died in Waikato Hospital one day after his eightieth birthday. His Requiem Mass was celebrated at Ngapuwaiwaha Marae, Taumarunui. He was buried at Okahukura.


Law Seen As Magnet to Drug Barons, Auckland Herald (17 March 1970) 8.

page 392

A matter of courtesy; in NZT XCVII.12 (25 Mar. 1970) 18.


A Prayer of Failure; in MM XL.4 (Apr. 1970) 29-30.


Some Suggested Guiding Principles in Working for World Peace; Hocken MS-0975/137/1. Est. date.

Hocken MS-0975/130 has duplicate copies.

Mystical Body: A term used in Catholic theology to refer to the identification of the Church (as body) with Christ (as head). It is based on St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4. 11-16: ‘And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. . . . If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love.’

Albigensians: in the 12th and 13th centuries the Cathari insisted that Christians should withdraw from the world because it was impure. Pope Innocent III declared this teaching heretical and called for a punitive crusade against the people of Languedoc (the Albigenses) who held this view. It succeeded after a twenty-year campaign.


Further Notes on Peace Work; Hocken, MS 975/138/1. Est. date. Also Hocken MS-0975/130. It was published by the Catholic Peace Fellowship of New Zealand, P.O. Box 2253, Wellington C.l.

Vatican II: the First Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (Vatican I) began in 1869 and was suspended by Pope Pius IX in 1870 after Rome was captured by the army of the Kingdom of Italy. The council was never resumed. The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) was opened by Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1902 and closed by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1965.

Kuo Min Tang (also known as the KMT): the Chinese Nationalist Party.


Introduction to The Devil and Mr Mulcahy; [and] The Band Rotunda. Auckland: Heinemann Educational Books (NZ) Ltd. 1971. Est. date.

Both plays were written in 1967. The first was produced at the Globe Theatre, directed by Rosalie and Patric Carey, at a season beginning on 15 July 1967. (It was published in LF XXII (1968) 27-56.) The second was produced at the Globe on 25 November 1967, again directed by Rosalie and Patric Carey. On 30 January 1968 they were produced at the Globe in a festival of JKB plays. It is unclear when the Introduction was written but it is assumed that it was written in 1970 for the Heinemann publication in 1971. The same comment applies to the following item.

page 393

The publication was reviewed in English in New Zealand (Sep. 1973) 59.

Hal Smith considered in ‘James K. Baxter: the Poet as Playwright’ (LF XXII, 1968: 56) that The Band Rotunda was ‘a simple and strong tragedy’, ‘persuasively human and extraordinarily moving’.


Introduction to The Sore-footed Man ; [and] The Temptations of Oedipus. Auckland: Heinemann Educational Books (NZ) Ltd, 1971.

Within the text JKB states that he wrote the article in 1970. He wrote The Sore-footed Man in 1967 and it was produced at the Globe Theatre on 4 September of that year, directed by Rosalie and Patric Carey. It was reviewed by Philip Smithells in NZL 1467 (17 Nov. 1967) 14. The Temptations of Oedipus was written in 1968 and first produced at the Globe Theatre on 3 April, 1970. (It was reviewed by Philip Smithells in NZL 1594, 11 May 1970: 12, and by O.E. Middleton in LF XXIV, 1970: 171.) It is assumed that JKB wrote this article about the time of its first production.

This publication was reviewed in English in New Zealand (Sep. 1973) 59.


A Castle of . . .; (report by Christine Wren); in Craccum, XLIV.6 (16 Apr. 1970) 3.

JKB would have known that as a radical member of the Progressive Youth Movement Tim Shadbolt (Timothy Richard Shadbolt, 1947- ) was arrest-ed thirty-three times: one of the arrests occurred because he used the word ‘bullshit’. As a result he decided to use the word again in the title of his 1971 autobiography Bullshit and Jellybeans (Alister Taylor, Wellington). See Note 624.


Dialogue on loneliness; in NZT XCVII.16 (22 Apr. 1970) 20.


My dream; in NZT XCV11.17 (29 Apr. 1970) 7. JKB reused this item in Autumn Testament.


The relevance of ordinary Christianity to human concerns; (given title ‘Baxter at the cathedral’); in NZT XCVII.22 (10 June 1970) 20-21.

Sermon delivered at Christchurch Cathedral on 3 May 1970 to a congregation of university students and others on the occasion of the University Graduation Service, 1970.

A typewritten copy is held by Hocken (ARC-027) MS-2348. It is headed ‘AddressGiven at the GraduationService / by James K. Baxter / Christchurch Cathedral, 3 May 1970’.


New Zealand ‘Trinity’; in Christchurch Press (4 May 1970) 14.

On page 16 of the same issue it was reported that JKB had preached in Christchurch Cathedral on the previous day at the University of Canterbury’s annual graduation service.

page 394

The capital graveyard; in Dominion (21 May 1970) 11.


I Care; an interview with Karl Du Fresne in Dominion (22 May 1970) 11.

A copy of the manuscript is held in the John Weir Papers, MB Acc. 2119 Item 2 Folder 1.


The Lion and the Lamb; A Talk; Hocken MS-0975/153. Est. date.


Rebel finds peace in sanctuary; report by Barrie Watts in Sunday Times (14 June 1970) 14-15.

The poem which JKB wrote during the interview was ‘A Man Went on a Search’ (CP 487).

JKB was due to turn forty-four (not forty-five) that month.


The politics of prejudice; in Sunday Times (21 June 1970) 11.

Colin King-Ansell caused a furore in 1968 when he denied during a TV current affairs programme that the Holocaust had occurred. In the same year he was jailed for fire-bombing a synagogue in Auckland. In 1969 he took over a small existing pro-Nazi group and restructured it as the National Socialist Party of New Zealand. Under the Front’s flag he twice contested the Mount Albert electorate. In 1979 he was convicted of distributing an anti-Semitic pamphlet. In 1990 he established the Fascist Union. In 2009 he became leader of the National Front which advocates executing criminals after a third strike, deporting homosexuals and Jews, permitting ‘whites only’ immigration, the state ownership of all resources, and allowing no sex outside marriage.

Progressive Youth Movement: an activist youth group with branches around New Zealand, perhaps an offshoot of the New Zealand Communist Party, which protested about various issues but especially the Vietnam War and opposition to apartheid. Between 1965 and the mid-seventies, at sit-ins, love-ins and speak-ins its members rubbed shoulders with members of the Peace Council, the regional committees on Vietnam, and the Communist Party. Tim Shadbolt’s Bullshit and Jellybeans (Wellington: Alister Taylor, 1971) helped focus the mood of the time.


Poet warns against seeking possessions; unsourced, undated newspaper clipping, Weir Papers, MB 599, Item 11, Box 2. Est. date.

The reference to Newman Hall suggests that this clipping is from the NZ Herald or the Auckland Star.


The New English Bible; in NZT XCVII.27 (15 July 1970) 27.

page 395

Poet decides to withhold tax; in NZPA report in Christchurch Press (21 July 1970) 26.


Letter to a Catholic Poet; in Dialectic 6 (Aug. 1970) 23-27.

The article was foot-noted ‘Mr James K. Baxter: Poet, pursuing a life of apostolic poverty up the Wanganui River.’


Hamilton, August 1970; in New Zealand Herald, 8 Aug. 1970.

Also in Alister Taylor’s suppressed James K. Baxter 1926-1972, a memorial volume.

The three lines cited are from ‘The Song of the Sun’, CP 486.


In a spirit of poverty; New Zealand Methodist 13 Aug. 1970, p. 8. A photocopy of the article is located in VUW Library MS McKay Box 6, Folder 3 Item 4/44.

The item contains a photograph with a caption which reads, ‘James K. Baxter, poet and author, who is trying to build himself a “refugium”, or sanctuary, on the Wanganui River, for people suffering from the pressures of city life. You could help in this by sending old blankets or old mattresses to him at Jerusalem.’


Poet’s view of the policeman’s lot . . . ; in the Waikato Times; (15 Aug. 1970) 19.


A Postscript to a Postscript; in Dialectic 7 (Oct. 1970) 30-32. This was written in reply to a protest by Rev. Kevin Maher S.M. entitled ‘A Postscript to “Letter to a Catholic Poet”’ in Dialectic 7 (Oct. 1970) 27.

[Patrick] Kevin Maher was born in Blenheim on 15 February 1912 and educated at St Patrick’s College, Wellington, and Victoria University where he achieved second-class honours in History. Professed as a member of the Society of Mary on 15 February 1939, he was ordained a priest on 12 December 1943. Between 1943 and 1973 he taught at St Patrick’s College, Wellington, St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, and St Bede’s College, Christchurch. While he was teaching seventh-form English at St Bede’s he used some of JKB’s poetry. On at least one occasion he arranged for JKB to speak to his class about literature. These facts added an edge to his objections to JKB’s ‘Letter to a Catholic Poet’. Between 1974 and 1978 Kevin Maher edited the Marist Messenger, which had earlier hosted a number of JKB’s prose articles and some poems. He died in Wellington on 15 December 1978.


[Between the hammer and the anvil]; an extract from a letter; Weir

Papers, MB Item 1184 Item 1/5 Box 2. Est. date. I incorporated this item into ‘Between the Hammer and the Anvil’. (See page 396Note 600.) The letter is undated but was ‘intended as a Christmas gift’.


Notions from the Passion; Weir Papers, MB 1184 Item 1/5 Box 2. Est. date.

I incorporated this item into ‘Between the Hammer and the Anvil’. (See Note 600.)


Commune Folk Seek Truth Down by the Riverside; New Zealand Weekly News (4 Jan. 1971) 3.


The Six Faces of Love ; Wellington, Futuna Press, 1972.

This series of Lenten talks was broadcast on the National Programme at weekly intervals under the title The Faces of Love. The first talk was broadcast on 4 March 1971. MS-1512 is a manuscript version entitled ‘Talks for Lent’. Hocken MS-0975/117 is a version of Section VI, ‘The Love of the Many’.

It was published by Futuna Press, an offshoot of Futuna Retreat House, Karori, Wellington. JKB gave the rights to Futuna in appreciation of their work for the spiritual development of Catholics and also for their lesser-known work in assisting alcoholics.

Part 3. ‘Love and Suffering’. Bodhisattva: a Buddhist saint who defers nirvana (perfect peace as a state of mind) in order to save other people.

Part 3. ‘Love and Suffering’: quotations are from ‘The Nabara’ written by C. Day Lewis in 1937 and published in his Overtures to Death and Other Poems (London: J. Cape, 1938). The poem is an elegy for fifty-two Spanish fishermen who died when an armed trawler, the Nabara, was sunk by one of Franco’s warships. The first citation should be ‘While Nabara sank by the stern in the hushed Cantabrian sea.’


Why Jerusalem when river a septic tank? in Wanganui Chronicle (10 Mar. 1971) 3.

JKB may have learned from his wife Jacquie about the services provided at Rātana Pā because she lived there for some years when she was young.


Sub-standard? Yes, but . . . ; in Wanganui Chronicle (10 Mar. 1971) 3. A boxed interview accompanying previous article.


Extract from ‘Why we went to Waitangi’; in the Sunday Times (14 Mar. 1971) 15, 44.

The Waitangi protest occurred on 8 February 1971.


Extract from ‘Only a pusher must push off’; in the Sunday Times (28 Mar. 1971) 15, 44, by Gillian Shadbolt.

page 397

The Young Warriors; Hocken MS-0975/122.

In 1968 JKB listened to an address by two leaders of Ngā Tamatoa (Taura Eruera and Hana Jackson) to students at the University of Otago. Their call for understanding impressed him.

Ngā Tamatoa (the Young Warriors) was founded after the Young Māori Leadership Conference at Auckland University in 1970. Its concerns were the problems Māori encountered with the legal system and the need to introduce the teaching of Māori language into schools. It was not a revolutionary organisation, seeking change through law changes and the cooperation of liberal Pākehā. But it was concerned about land rights and the ‘Cheaty of Waitangi’. Syd Jackson (1938-2007), husband of Hana, was its first president. They decided to challenge the establishment at the 1971 Waitangi Day celebrations. JKB travelled with them to Waitangi on an old bus.

Taura Eruera, an activist for the advancement of Māori language and other issues.

Hana Jackson, a Māori activist greatly admired by JKB. She instigated a public petition on the need to strengthen Māori language and on 14 September 1972 she presented Ngā Tamatoa’s Te Reo Māori Petition with thirty thousand signatures to parliament. It requested that

courses in Māori language and aspects of Maori culture be offered in ALL those schools with large Maori rolls and that these same courses be offered as a gift to the Pakeha from the Maori in ALL other New Zealand schools as a positive effort to promote a more meaningful concept of integration.

Judith of Bethulia: a widow from the Jewish town of Bethulia. When it was besieged by an Assyrian army Judith impersonated a prostitute and after seducing the invading general and making him drunk she cut off his head. She returned to her people a heroine.

Te Rapunga Marae: at Waiomio, Northland.

Ngāpuhi: New Zealand’s largest iwi, centred in Northland. It has fifty-five marae.

Duncan McIntyre (1915-2001) was a National Party politician and Minister of Māori Affairs from 1969 to 1972 and from 1975 to 1978. He was also deputy prime minister (1981-84) under Robert Muldoon.


Extracts from ‘The Jerusalem Community’; Hocken MS-0975/154. Est. date.

This document is a draft of Jerusalem Daybook (Wellington: Price Milburn, 1971). According to McKay (p. 260), by May 1971 forty young people were in residence with JKB in two old houses made available to him at Jerusalem. JKB stated that one thousand people stayed that year. The living environment is described in McKay (pp. 260-71).

page 398

Extracts from ‘Notes on Community Life’ [1]; Hocken MS-0975/116.

Est. date. MS-0975/161 is an additional copy.

This is an early draft of Jerusalem Daybook. The CPr version includes the passages which have not been included in the final version and have not been deleted in the manuscript.

stabilitas: Latin form of ‘stability’, durability.


Extracts from ‘Notes on Community Life’ [2]; Hocken, MS-0975/078, 079, 080. Est. date.

A second draft of Jerusalem Daybook. The CPr version includes the passages which have not been included in the final version and have not been deleted in the manuscript.


Extracts from ‘Jerusalem Journal’; 3 vols. Hocken, MS-0975/81-83. Est. date.

This seems to have been the third draft of Jerusalem Daybook. At one point JKB entitled this draft ‘The Book of Hemi’. (He may have known The Book of Wiremu, Stella Morice’s 1944 children’s book about the life of a Māori family who lived alongside the Waitukituki River.)

Mike Minehan wrote an account of the Bradley incident:

Do you remember that day when we walked over the small hill in the paddock next to the Nun’s Cottage. A van had arrived from Auckland in the late morning and the man, who you said you knew from the drug pads in the city, handed out acid and speed like they were candy. I can still hear the screams of one of our tribe as he rolled and writhed in the long grass, a young Island boy, the one who gathered food from the bush for us. I begged you to do something about it. I can remember pulling at you, shouting that you must take charge. You said that it was out of your hands. That it would sort itself out. To have faith. At that moment I hated you. I cried and said if you didn’t do something I would phone the police from Father Te Awhitu’s. In the end you agreed to talk to the man and I see you there, shabby, small, moving your arms about, wide gestures and your voice not rising but reasoning. And what I wanted to see was fire but that was not your way and finally he got the message that he was not welcome and he drove off, taking some of the kids with him. And I remained angry.

When we discussed this later you said that there could be no rules. That rules were what had driven the kids to revolt, to flee their families and seek freedom. That they had to find the way through themselves. Unconditional love, you said, was the answer, and total acceptance. God would sort it all out. An all embracing aroha, even for drug dealers, was required and it grieved you to see me more distraught. ‘Have faith, sister,’ you said, often. But it was a hard thing you asked of me.’ (Minehan 4344).

page 399

Mike Minehan (Judith M. Blumsky) (1947- ) was born and brought up in Auckland. In 1969 she met JKB and, at his suggestion, joined his community at Jerusalem. They became partners and in 1971 she gave birth to their son. In 1972, the year he died, she moved to Christchurch. In 1989 her first collection ofpoetry No Returns was published. In the following year it was awarded first place in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s international competition. She has also published Embracing the Dark (1991) and Suicide Season (1997).


Jerusalem Daybook. Wellington: Price Milburn, 1971.

Poems are included in the Collected Prose version.

The book was published in the week beginning 14 February 1972. By

the end of that month JKB had returned to his Jerusalem residence with permission to reopen the community which had been closed down in early October 1971. By February 1972 JKB was allowed to re-form a community at Jerusalem but was obliged to limit the number of residents to ten. (This condition was not strictly observed.)

This sequence of events has made it difficult for me to decide where to position Jerusalem Daybook within the body of the Complete Prose. As a published item, the principle of placement I have used would require that it be located in the week beginning 14 February 1972, when it was published. But because it provides a picture of events and the community up to March-April 1971 (when it is presumed JKB had completed writing it) it is located at that point. If this had not been done it would have followed, rather than preceded, the closing of JKB’s Jerusalem community in September 1971, his move to Wellington in late September and his three-month campaign for the homeless there, and would have coincided with manuscript writings done at the time he returned to Jerusalem from Wellington. In effect it would have meant that manuscripts written for Autumn Testament would seem to precede the writings in Jerusalem Daybook. This is the only case in which I have dated (and so located) a published item from its date of composition rather than publication. I have discussed this matter in the Introduction.

Reviewed in English in New Zealand (Apr. 1974), 47; and Second Coming, III.1/2 (1974) 101.


Talk on Drug Abuse; Hocken MS-0975/159. Est. date.


Baxter agrees with council; in Wanganui Chronicle (8 Apr. 1971) 1.

The Chronicle report contains different information from the NZPA report used by the ODT. (See following item.)

The inspectors’ report is published on page 3.


Baxter undertakes to heed demands; in ODT (NZPA) (8 Apr. 1971) 5.

page 400

Loss of Freedom; in Dominion (21 Apr. 1971).


Courage to Mud Farmers; in Craccum XLV.8 (29 Apr. 1971) 2.


An Interview with James K. Baxter; conducted by John Weir. This interview was recorded for broadcasting on the YC programme ‘Poetry Magazine’ in May 1971.

It was subsequently published in LF vol. 28 no. 3 (Sep. 1974) 241-250.

There is a copy of the script in Hocken MS-0975/138.


Jerusalem No Hangout for the Freaked-Out; Love not sex the keynote; in Auckland Star, 29 May 1971.


[Reply to a review of The Rock Woman]; (letter to editor); in LF vol. 25 no. 2 (June 1971) 209-212.

JKB’s letter replied to Owen Leeming’s review (‘And the Clay Man?’) of The Rock Woman in LF (same issue) p. 9. Leeming replied to JKB (p. 212). I gave a further response (p. 198) to which Leeming replied (p. 203).

The book was published in 1969 so Leeming’s review is of the 1971 reprinting. (It was also reprinted in 1973.)

JKB was sympathetic to Leeming’s attitude: ‘That poem is one of the documents to which I turn for reassurance in my private clumsy labours to undo the harm the Catholic Church does to her young, and to support and initiate a heart-centred Catholic humanism.’ JKB also mentioned that ‘As a loyal member of the Catholic Church, I am obliged to mention and oppose her cultural deformities.’

Owen Leeming, poet, critic, radio producer. See SB.


Family breaking up in N.Z., says poet; in Christchurch Press (9 Aug. 1971) 14.


Baxter commune likely to be closed; in Wanganui Chronicle (13 Aug. 1971) 1.


Comment [An Obituary for R.A.K. Mason]; in LF vol. 25 no. 3 (Sep. 1971) 237-239. JKB parodied Mason’s ‘Sonnet of Brotherhood’ in ‘To the Last Hero’ (The Iron Breadboard, 1957), dedicating it ‘To R.A.K.M.’

At a later time when Mason edited the radio programme ‘Poetry’ he wrote to tell Louis Johnson that he found the assignment troublesome because he did not like criticising the work of other poets. In particular he did not like the divide among New Zealand writers. In contrast, he told Johnson, ‘one of my aims is to show that there is an over-riding brotherhood of poetry, regardlesspage 401 of differences, and that this applies to all except those who have put themselves outside the pale.’ (Rachel Barrowman, Mason, the Life of R.A.K. Mason. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2003, p. 378.) Barrowman deduced that JKB was one of those who were ‘outside the pale’, partly because in ‘The Kiwi and Mr Curnow’, his 1961 review of Curnow’s Penguin anthology, he accused Curnow of a biased editorial policy based on pietism, assailed Curnow’s selection policy, and also reduced the status of the Curnow group, which included Mason (of whom he wrote ‘Mason, though he wrote well, has been over-rated; his range is very narrow indeed’). Mason would have had more reason to be offended in 1967 when JKB portrayed him in Aspects of Poetry in New Zealand as an over-rated poet with Georgian characteristics.

Barrowman remarks (p. 378) that Mason, with Bertram and Curnow, considered that JKB had not fulfilled his early promise. In Mason’s case that may not be so, because he knew about his own situation and the fact that he had not written poetry for thirty years. But her other remark is probably correct: ‘he was contemptuous of Baxter’s recent conversion to Catholicism, of course.’ (p. 378).

In addition, she identified ‘a personal element’ in Mason’s attitude to JKB. In May 1963 Mason wrote to Bertram: ‘Speaking of Baxter’s peculiar habits, I saw a copy of an avant-garde sort of journal called [Argot] recently. To my utter astonishment, there was a poem of my own modified by Master Baxter & without acknowledgment of any sort.’ (p. 378). He then said that ‘[w]hat reduced me to mingled annoyance & amusement was that his improvement consisted of giving it some sort of feeble Left-wing slant: I feel that if I want any Left-wing touches introduced, I am quite capable of doing it myself!’ (p. 379). (JKB’s ‘The Seventh Wound’ was the poem in question, described by Barrowman as a ‘reworking’ of Mason’s ‘The Seventh Wound Protests’.) He told Bertram that he considered JKB to be ‘going further into crankiness than ever’.

JKB was trying to loosen the stranglehold of Curnow and Brasch on poetry in New Zealand and it is unfortunate that he offended Mason during this process because he admired him as a person. In Aspects of Poetry in New Zealand he wrote that ‘However he chooses to write, Mason is aware that our people, at the level of feeling, live like slaves in the quarries of Syracuse; he knows the meaning of destitution – and something of this moves behind any poem he has written.’ His admiration of Mason is apparent in this obituary.

In 1967 I corresponded with Mason about a poetry in schools project. The first booklet in the series was to be about his verse. I had selected twenty-five poems. Mason asked me to substitute ‘O fons Bandusiae’ for ‘Body of John’ which, he said, ‘I do not like’ (perhaps, in part, because it was about his own anticipated death – his family name was ‘John’). He considered that the ‘rhythm and gaiety’ of the former poem would ‘help to lighten the book’. He wanted ‘Ad Miram’ and ‘Song for Dunedin’ included because theypage 402 had ‘something of the narrative ballad quality that appeals to young people, quite naturally. I would gladly sacrifice some of the earlier stuff for them.’ He insisted that the selection end with ‘Song for Dunedin’, otherwise he was afraid that it would end ‘on a sour note’ (Barrowman, p. 393). Yet Mason’s bookplate, designed by Fairburn, shows at its centre a skull superimposed on a cross lying, perhaps, on a hill of skulls.

Mason did not feel as warmly about JKB as JKB did about him. About 1971 Mason told me that he would punch JKB if he attempted to hug him.


The Pruning of the Tree; in Dominion (11 Sep. 1971) 13.

Father Caulfield was the priest to whom he referred. William Melville Caulfield was born in Invercargill on 26 January 1914. After entering the seminary of Mount St Mary’s at Greenmeadows in Hawke’s Bay he was professed as a member of the Society of Mary on 15 February 1939 and ordained priest on 15 December 1943. He worked in the Māori Mission for fifty years and was at Jerusalem 1945-46 and 1957-63. At the time he pushed for the closure of JKB’s community at Jerusalem he was in charge of Lampila House, the Whanganui Town Centre of the Catholic Māori Mission, Whanganui. He resided there, rather than at the presbytery associated with the parish, but he intervened to ensure that JKB was no longer able to sleep on the presbytery verandah. He died at the Home of Compassion, Whanganui, on 19 August 1993. JKB referred to these events in ‘Sad Father Song’:

Old Father Caulfield gave us the runaround
When they turfed us out of Jerusalem.
He reckoned I must be running a brothel –
He never donated an ounce of cum. [comfort]

With due respect to the Catholic priesthood
I wish at least he had visited the place, –
The farmers lost one or two sheep in a hangi
But they didn’t have the nerve to meet us face to face.

Oh late in September I came down to Wellington
Wearing my bare feet and an oilskin
To hear the little birds on Mount Victoria
And smell the turds that float in the harbour. (CP 529)


Communes to stay, Jim says; in Sunday Times; (12 Sep. 1971) 5.


Baxter Wants End to River Commune; Wanganui Herald (13 Sep. 1971) 4.

page 403

Takapau may have commune early in 1972; in Auckland Star (17 Sep. 1971).

JKB would have chosen Takapau as a possible venue for another community because the Cistercian monastery of Our Lady of the Southern Star was located nearby.


The government and the Tokelau scandal; in NZT (22 Sep. 1971) 9-10.

Tokelau became a New Zealand territory under the Tokelau Act of 1948. As a result of overcrowding and a lack of educational and employment opportunities its citizens began emigrating to New Zealand. In 1974 The Tokelau Island Migrant Study was published. Led by Dr I.A.M. Prior, the investigating team included an epidemiologist, a professor of medicine and a biostatistician.


Extract 1 from Draft of Autumn Testament; Hocken MS-0975/93 1971.


Extract 2 from Draft of Autumn Testament; Hocken MS-0975/94.

The first two entries in this notebook were written in February-March 1972 after JKB returned to Jerusalem to form a second community. Other items in the manuscript, including this one, were written before this, i.e. after the closure of the first community and during JKB’s stay in Wellington (September 1971 to February 1972).

The notebook contains the items identified in the Notes and References as extracts from Hocken MS-0975/94. It also includes advanced, virtually complete, drafts of the poems in Autumn Testament. Baxter readers may regard these with interest because of the variations from the final texts. Also of interest are five poems which were not included in the final selection:

Ans Westra has been here for a day,
And she, being tall, can fit a light in the bedroom,

Another in the bathroom, another in the hall
Where the red-painted one gave scandal

Making one priest critic think (and say) I was running a brothel
The time the farmers put their heads together

To turf us out. I give her some notes
For her book of photographs – many, young and old,

Have had to look at the Medusa’s head
That our urban culture turns towards them:

page 404

‘Depersonalisation, centralisation, desacralisation.
Some are turned to stone by it. Some

‘Fight first against our lies, then against all transcendence.
Some hide themselves inside a dry bale of straw.’

In this draft form JKB included it in the Autumn Testament sequence as No. 11 changed to No. 12. It is inferior to the other poems in the sequence and was quite properly omitted from the eventual selection.

Another draft sonnet was numbered 31 changed to 32. In this case the deletions, which are not significant, are not included:

Somewhere on the mountain I will see Te Kare,
The woman I married – I don’t write about her,

Poems are public and marriage is a private thing,
Or so they say. Perhaps for the painters,

Rembrandt, for example, it was a different matter,
If they married their models or painted the wife one day

To save expense. One or two words
In the books I have hung round the neck of Te Kare

Like a greenstone hook – but how do you put in words
The star that shines in the centre of the sky

Before the moon has risen, or a flame-red flower
Breaking from a bare tree once in a hundred years;

Whose scent fills the whole world? That star, that flower,
Will bring a man to wisdom or destroy him.

Obviously JKB was dissatisfied with the poem, and also, perhaps, with its sentiment, and so decided to exclude it from the final selection. In its place he wrote the very successful introductory group of poems ‘He Waiata mo Te Kare’. There are no drafts of these in this Hocken manuscript.

A third poem is numbered 33 changed to 34. It remained in draft because it did not meet JKB’s selection standard. It begins with a description of a representation of Jesus Christ crucified:

One has only to compare the strong bronze arms,
The feet triumphant on their pedestal,

page 405

The hands held out in greeting,
With the torture of one tied up like a pig

With spikes driven through the bones of the wrist,
The man shitting himself, the death by asphyxiation,

To know life is crueller than religion:
That many prefer. For a joke I tell Francie

I’ve dropped the kitten down the pit privy
Because it made too much noise. She runs to look

And comes back with a hot face, as usual
Sparring with her father. But he said to Peter

‘One day they’ll come and lay their hands on you’ –
The first Pope died like a pig. Charades are our religion.

Sonnet 35 changed to 36 is another which did not survive, although its opening line, slightly altered, became the opening line of a much stronger poem (No. 44, ‘This testament, a thing of rags and patches’):

This ragged testament, a thing of bits and patches,
Is like its author, of whom it must be understood

Too great normality has driven him to the ground:
He is a very common snail-grey sinner,

But clever with words, or he was clever
Before the booze shot half his head away

And religion chopped his ballocks off. Unfair.
These games we play to calm the troubled air

While waiting, one man like another,
For the arrival of a God or mother

To give us the blue-ribbon white toy pen
We lost one Christmas by a brown hill stream,

Or else the fires of Armageddon teaching
Us that our sense of value was a dream.

page 406

Sonnet 45 was deleted because it did not reach a satisfactory state:

‘I suppose, Mr Baxter, somebody has to
Look after these people’ – ‘Madam, each of us

Comes from a common mother’ – ‘I don’t follow’ –
‘The ground, Madam, the earth who makes then destroys you

‘And swallows up our shit’ – ‘There’s no need to be vulgar’ –
‘There is need. What drives them mad more often than not

‘Is respectability’ – ‘How many will go back
To settle down, work, lead normal lives?’

‘Few, I hope; most, I fear’ – ‘Where is the training wrong?
‘We have good schools’ – ‘Madam, I put it to you,

If someone tried to persuade you were a Martian
Asexual, with nine legs and telescopic eyes,

Addicted to eating bits of old newspaper, dollar bills,
Then said, “Be happy, Vera!”’ – ‘I think I know what you mean.’


Extract 3 from Draft of Autumn Testament; Hocken MS-0975/95.


Crashpad Notes: October-December 1971; Hocken MS-0975/94.

667.[In Pharaoh’s Kingdom]; Hocken MS-0975/181. Est. date. Hocken catalogue refers to MS-0975/181 as ‘Maori language learning materials’. The document is untitled. Present title supplied by editor.


The Jerusalem Experience; in NZL 1668 (18 Oct. 1971) 19.

JKB talked to Ian Hay-Campbell in this ‘Point of View’ interview (National Programme, 19 Sep. 1971).


Jerusalem community filled a social need; report by George Sweet; in Christchurch Press (21 Oct. 1971) 11.


Some Comments on Women’s Liberation; Hocken MS-0975/120. Est. date.

Australian-born Germaine Greer (1939- ) is a writer and advocate for women’s liberation. Her 1970 book The Female Eunuch caused a sensation.

George [Lester] Jackson (1941-71), US convict and member of the Blackpage 407 Panther Party, was kept in solitary confinement for twenty-three hours a day after he was accused of killing a prison guard in retaliation for the killing of three black prisoners. During his imprisonment Jackson studied political affairs and wrote two popular books. Three days before his trial he was killed, shot at San Quentin Prison. Some have argued that his death was a political assassination. The contrary argument is that he was shot while trying to escape from prison.

Ngahuia: possibly Ngahuia Te Awekotuku (1949- ), born in Rotorua and linked to Te Arawa, Waikato and Tūhoe. At the University of Auckland she achieved a PhD. She became a writer and activist, being a strong advocate for feminism, gay and lesbian movements, and Ngā Tamatoa. She became curator of ethnology at Waikato Museum (1985-87), lecturer in art history at Auckland University, and then professor of Māori Studies at Victoria University.

Titokowaru: Riwha Titokowaru was the leader of a small force of Ngāti Ruanui who achieved some remarkable military successes against the colonial armies during the Taranaki War, especially in the course of his defensive battles for his pā Te Ngutu O Te Manu (‘The Beak of the Bird’).


A scorpion circled by fire; in Sunday Times (16 Jan. 1972) 7.


[Sometimes I think that God has nothing to do with me]; Hocken MS0975/101.

This item is contained on the first page of the notebook. It is followed by these items: ‘Ballad of Dives and Lazarus’ (CP 434), annotated ‘written on fifth day [of a fast]’; ‘Two Songs for a Fast’, annotated ‘9th day’ (i.e. ‘It is the month of the dead’, CP 520, and ‘Not I, not I, but Us’, CP 521); ‘Song of the Soul to the Lord Christ’ (i.e. ‘The Song of the One’, CP 522); ‘A Song of the Soul’ (i.e. ‘The Song of the Many’, CP 523); ‘Another Song of the Soul’; ‘Another Song of the Lord’; ‘Ballad of the Black Marigold’ (i.e. ‘Black Marigold Song’, CP 527); and other drafts of poems including ‘Ballad of Firetrap Castle’ (CP 527) and [‘Oh early in the morning’] (CP 526).


A Note on Politics; Hocken MS-0975/94.


Some Principles for Running an Urban Commune; Hocken MS-0975/94.

A ‘no shit’ rule’: a rule forbidding drugs.


Letter to a Young Marxist; Hocken MS-0975/87.


Extract 4 from Draft of Autumn Testament; Hocken MS-0975/94.

page 408

677.Extract 5 from Draft of Autumn Testament; Hocken MS-0975/95.

This item, written in 1972, is a later addition to earlier material written in Wellington in late 1971 (presented in CPr as ‘Extract from Draft of Autumn Testament’). In the manuscript it follows ‘Ballad of the Third Boobhead’. The first three paragraphs of this item were carried over, virtually unchanged, into the final text of Autumn Testament so they have not been included here.

[Jules] Règis Debray (1940- ) was born in Paris. He studied philosophy and by the late 1960s had become Professor of Philosophy at the University of Havana, Cuba. He also became an associate of Che Guevara in Bolivia. He wrote Revolution in the Revolution? which became a handbook for Latin American revolutionaries. It was published in 1967 – the year when he and Guevara were captured separately in Bolivia. Debray was sentenced to thirty years in prison but was released in 1970 after a powerful campaign by such influential people as Charles de Gaulle, André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre and Pope Paul VI. He then went to Chile but after the military staged a coup against President Salvador Allende he returned to France. When FranÇois Mitterand was elected president in 1981 he was appointed an adviser to the president on foreign affairs. Subsequently he remained a spokesman of the Left in an increasingly Rightist world.


Aspects of Christian Action; Hocken MS-0975/118. Est. date.

Father Damien of Molokai (born Jozef De Veuster, 1840-1889) was a Belgian Catholic priest and missionary who ministered for sixteen years to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai in the Hawaiian group. He eventually contracted leprosy and died. On 11 October 2009 Pope Benedict XVI formally declared him a saint.

Robert Louis [Balfour] Stevenson (1850-94) was a Scottish novelist and poet. In 1888, for his health’s sake, he embarked on a Pacific trip. While in the Hawaiian Islands he became a friend of the king. He also visited the leper colony at Molokai not long after Damien had died. His trip took him to Australia and while he was in Sydney he read a published letter in which Rev. Dr Hyde, a Presbyterian minister of Honolulu, attacked Damien’s reputation. Stevenson, a fellow-Presbyterian, felt driven to reply in an open letter which has become famous for its scathing power. He considered Hyde’s motives in writing the letter – including envy and anger that Damien succeeded where Hyde and other Presbyterian ministers had failed:

But, sir, when we have failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour – the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever.

page 409

Stevenson contrasted the situation of the minister in Honolulu as he ‘sat inglorious in the midst of your well-being, in your pleasant rooms – and Damien . . . [as he] toiled and rotted in that pigsty of his under the cliffs of Kalawao – you, the elect who would not, were the last man on earth to collect and propagate gossip on the volunteer who would and did.’ Damien had endured a ‘nightmare of horror’ as he worked among ‘the butt-ends of human beings lying there almost unrecognisable’.

Stevenson wondered how Hyde would feel if someone came to him after his (Hyde’s) father had died, bringing malicious gossip and evidence of misdeeds. Stevenson imagined that Hyde would regret this and ‘feel the tale more keenly since it shamed the author of your days’. He also imagined that the last thing that Hyde would do would be to write a letter for the religious Press to publish. Stevenson closed his own letter with the words ‘Well, the man who tried to do what Damien did, is my father . . . and the father of all who love goodness; and he was your father too, if God had given you grace to see it.’

In this talk JKB says that Stevenson denied the claims that Hyde made. But he did not deny them. He just put them into the context of heroic sanctity.

679.‘Commune’ closed but Baxter to stay at Jerusalem; in Wanganui Chronicle (29 Feb. 1972) 1.


Things and Idols; Hocken MS-0975/160. Est. date.


Varsity Talk; Hocken, MS-0975/156. Est. date. The Hocken catalogue title is ‘Fair manuscript of a talk to university students’.

The notes JKB referred to were almost certainly ‘Crashpad Notes: October-December 1971: Hocken MS-0975/94.


Talk to Training-College Students; Hocken MS-0975/167. Est. date.

apomorphine: less strong than morphine, it is used in small doses as an emetic or sedative.

Shalom: Hebrew word for ‘Peace’ or ‘completeness’ or ‘fulfilment’.


Points; McKay 22/4/9. Undated manuscript. Est. date.

JKB sent these notes to Frank McKay. They end with the request ‘Tell me what you think of these “points”, Frank. / Arohanui’.

I have estimated its placement here from the tone and content of the writing.


To the Christian Family Groups; Hocken MS-0975/158. Est. date.

page 410

The House of Lazarus; Hocken MS-0975/98.


Notes on the Country I Live In ; (an essay from a book with that title), photographs by Ans Westra. Wellington: ATP [Alister Taylor Publishing], 1972. p. 3.

Additional text was by Tim Shadbolt.

The poem in Section 2 (‘Now we are short of meat, but up the path’) is a late draft of ‘Autumn Testament, 3’ (CP 542).

The name ‘Skully’ in the poem [‘Oh early in the morning’] was replaced in the final version (CP 526) by ‘Gabguts’. The reason for the alteration is explained by a letter from JKB to Barbara Milburn (2 Oct. 1972. Weir Papers; MB 1184 Item 14/1 Box 14). The publishing firm Price Milburn was engaged in pre-production work on Autumn Testament. Barbara Milburn had expressed concern that an allusion in the third stanza of ‘Oh early in the morning’ might beconsidered tobe incontempt ofcourt because ofa thinlydisguised reference to the real name of a magistrate. The version JKB submitted was

And I go down to the Courtroom
To watch old Skully there...

The magistrate’s true name was ‘Scully’. Karl du Fresne has recalled that when he was a cadet reporter during the Sixties he would be in the court with Ben Scully, ‘a famously tough magistrate alongside whom Captain Bligh would have looked a sickly liberal’ (Karl du Fresne Blog. Archive 17 Dec. 2008). He particularly remembered Scully’s ‘choleric glare’.

The letter, written from Jerusalem on 2 October 1972, was received on 7 October.


‘I walked south . . .’; Hocken MS 0975/099. Est. date.

It seems that JKB was drafting another poetry/prose journal, perhaps what he called elsewhere ‘Jerusalem Daybook 2’. This prose section is followed immediately by a draft of ‘On the Shortest Day of the Year’ (the second of ‘Five Sestinas’, CP 585-86). Drafts of two other sestinas follow. The first is untitled and uncompleted; the second is a draft of ‘The Dark Welcome’ (CP 586-7). The final item, unfinished and often indecipherable, seems to be a draft of an Introduction to Thoughts about the Holy Spirit. (See No. 697.) It is in the form of an open letter to his Dominican friend Eugene O’Sullivan. Regrettably, the final sentence of ‘I walked south . . .’ is indecipherable to me.

The item is introduced by the following:

1. Music
2. Chorus (1): The stranger is approaching,
The one who has no home,
page 411 Poor child of Adam
With all his crimes on his back.
Chorus (2): When man was in Paradise He hid at one with God.
Chorus (1): But the mountains and the sky Have turned their face away.
Chorus (2): The sun is a cruel master, The moon is his enemy.
Chorus (1): They say they have to make A jail for the lawbreaker.
Chorus (2): They say they have to make A locked ward for the sick.
Chorus (1): Only in his dreams Can a man become himself.

[Tonight, after a day of grief ]; Hocken MS-0975/102.

This appears to be written about the same time as other draft items which were not included in the final text of Autumn Testament.


Extract 6 from Draft of Autumn Testament; Hocken MS-0975/93.


Autumn Testament: poetry and prose journal. Wellington: Price Milburn, 1972.

Hocken Library holds a manuscript copy (MS-0975/088-099) in five volumes. At one point the draft was entitled ‘The House of Lazarus’, perhaps because JKB metaphorically died before coming back to life again in a house in Jerusalem.

Poems are excluded.

Reviewed in NZL 1733 (29 Jan. 1973) 42, by James Bertram; MM XLIII.3 (Mar. 1973) as ‘Jerusalem Testament’; English in New Zealand (Apr. 1974) 47; and Second Coming III (1974) 102, by A. Frank Moritz.


‘Poet Writes to Priest; Let’s Free the Slaves of Mankind’; in Dominion Sunday Times (30 Apr. 1972).

Also (as ‘Poet Writes to Priest’) in James K. Baxter 1926-1972: A Memorial Volume (Wellington: A. Taylor, 1972). This book was withdrawn from sale after Jacquie Baxter took legal action to protect her copyright.

page 412

Conversation with a Catholic Mother; Hocken MS-0975/164. Est. date.

Despite a reference to publishing, this article appears to be unpublished. JKB printed at the head of the article ‘No’. The published article referred to in the first paragraph is No. 691, ‘Poet Writes to Priest’.


Draft of ‘Jerusalem Daybook 2’; Hocken MS-0975/082. Est. date.


A Handbook for the Christian Militant; He Kupu mo Nga Toa; Hocken MS-0975/163. Est. date.

This copy of the text includes a glossary of Māori words. The Weir Papers include a typed copy.

Hocken also holds an earlier draft (MS-0975/100).


A Walking Stick for an Old Man. Wellington: C.M.W. Print, 1972.

In late July 1972, while staying with me in Christchurch, JKB delivered the text of this leaflet as a public address at Rochester Hall, a residential hall at the University of Canterbury. He was on his way to Dunedin to give an address at Impulse ’72, a carnival for young Christians.

The Hocken draft of this item (MS-0975/100) is entitled ‘He Tokotoko Mo Te Koroheke’. Its first title (deleted) is ‘Some Words for Hone Jackson’.


[Transcript of a Tape-recording of Baxter Reading and Commenting on his Poetry]; VUW Library MS McKay 1/32; Transcript of Tape No. 28. Baxter Reading, 1972.


Thoughts about the Holy Spirit from a Reading of the Prison Letters of Paul. Wellington: Futuna Press, 1973.

Hocken has a manuscript version MS-0975/087. Est. date.

‘A Song to the Father’ was included as one of ‘Five Sestinas’ published in LF vol. 26 no. 3 (Sep. 1972) 220. This text is preferred to that in the Thoughts . . . The poem entitled ‘Song of the Soul to the Lord Jesus’ appeared in CP 522 under its original title ‘Four God Songs / 2. Songs of Pharaoh’s Daughters / (1) “The Song of the One”’. ‘A Second Song of the Soul to the Lord Jesus’ was republished under the same title as ‘The Song of the Many’.

McKay has written about the composition of Thoughts: ‘When Baxter stayed at Newman Hall in Auckland for some weeks in May [1972], Father [Eugene] O’Sullivan suggested that he write some articles about the Captivity Letters of St Paul since they seemed especially relevant to support his idea. JKB finished them in August. They first appeared in Zealandia during 1973 and were later collected in a booklet, Thoughts about the Holy Spirit, Futuna Press, Wellington, 1983 [actually 1973].’ (I proof-read the copy for Futuna Press.) Hocken Library holds a manuscript copy (MS 975/88-90) entitled ‘Thoughts on the Holy Spirit’ (3 vols). At this late stage in his life JKB hadpage 413 been strongly influenced by pentecostal (charismatic) ideas and practices. He then stayed briefly with his family in Wellington before returning to Jerusalem at the end of August. Burnt out, disillusioned, he did not stay long. Instead he went to Auckland and moved into community lodgings in Carrick Place, Mount Eden.


Elegy for Boyle Crescent; in Islands vol. 1 no. 1 (Spring, 1972) 25-31. Hocken Library has a manuscript version MS-0975/162. Islands, a literary quarterly, existed between 1972 and 1981 and was revived from 1984 to 1987. Its editor was Robin Dudding, editor of Landfall until his dismissal. It was the natural successor to Landfall as it was when Charles Brasch was editor.

This article was included in Taylor’s suppressed Memorial Volume for JKB.


N.Z. poets break through culture barrier; in Zealandia (references not known) [1972]. McKay, Item 7/11. Est. date.

This is a review of Poetry New Zealand (ed. Frank McKay, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1972). Late in JKB’s life, as if in preparation for death, he visited or wrote to some current or former friends to pay tribute or make recompense for past events. The tone of this review suggests that he was acknowledging some friends in this manner.

Rhys Pasley: SB.

Dorothy Parkes: no information available.


Notes on Maori Education; in Odtaa; publication details not known. A photo-copy of the item is listed as VUW Library MS McKay 9/2.

Odtaa was a one-time journal of Palmerston North Teachers’ Training College. The journal’s title was presumably borrowed from John Masefield’s 1926 novel ODTAA, where it was an acronym for ‘One Damn Thing After Another’.

‘Conference’: the annual Māori Education Development Conference. Ranginui Walker: see SB.

701.Three Kinds of Christian; VUW Library MS McKay 22/3.

The talk was probably delivered in Dunedin but I have not been able to identify the occasion or the group to which he spoke. Colin Durning has informed me that he attended the event but is now unable to recall the sponsoring group. JKB gave him the original hand-printed text of his talk as he left the venue. Durning then gave it to Frank McKay.

[Tini] Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan (1932-2011) represented the Labour Party as a member of parliament between 1967 and 1996. In 1993, in recognition of her contribution to her constituents and to political life generally, she was made a member of the Order of New Zealand.

page 414

Escape from Fear; review of Man of England Now with I for One . . . and A Game of Hide and Seek, by Frank Sargeson. Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1972; in NZL 1718 (9 Oct. 1972) 50.

Man of England Now received PEN’s Hubert Church Award.

On 1 August 1966 JKB wrote from Dunedin to Sargeson regarding Memoirs of a Peon. He thought that it

may well be a great comic novel – the first to be seen here but it also has the beauty and sadness I usually associated with James Joyce – some sense of the true remembered biological ikons – not so much in the material itself, as in the distance that your theorem imposes – an oldish man thinking back over his life – and it is this which gives it its irremovable folktale quality . . . It is quite simply a magnificent story and the style is the right one. (King, 366)

Sargeson told Janet Frame that he had met JKB in Takapuna in September 1972:

[He] looked much healthier than I’ve seen him for many years – apparently he’s been eating better. I pushed a couple of dollars onto him. Token resistance. Then he informed me he had posted in to the Listener his review of [Man of England Now]. I made him promise he’d say . . . I gave him [money] before I knew he had the book to review.

But he did not always feel magnanimous about him. In a letter of 13 June 1971 he told me that

I have seen your little Baxter book [The Poetry of James K. Baxter] noticed in Herald and Star by people who have had very little to say. I shall buy it. I don’t much go along with these Celtic talents which throw off masterpieces between pub-crawls – later to become Jerusalem-retreats – but were the Essenes quite like that. (I expect the Scrolls of the Master will be deposited in Maori burial-caves). I don’t expect you to pardon me – there is and always has been something dismayingly provincial about Baxter. I should hate to tell him about the death of my friend, even tell him about my friend. There is something so awful about provincial caritas! (Sargeson, 456)

Three months later Sargeson injected more bile into a letter to Philip Wilson:

As for Jim B, the story is he is now cuckoo beyond recall – faints with horror at the sight of a contraceptive of any description and insists that prayer and trust in the Lord will fix everything, even a string of pregnancies. I sound gossipy and malicious – which I am as I have had the backwash from some of the boring pieces who have made the pilgrimage to the Holy City to throw themselves into the arms of the Master (the Lord save me from young women I’ve been rash enough to give my telephone number to – mainly as a piece of risky strategy for removing them from the doorstep in the direction of the street). But seriously, far from leading young people into the Light I would think Our Poet is a good deal more a Prize Buggerer up. But I may be MOST UNJUST. (Sargeson, 460).

page 415

Preface to ‘Parables for the Poor’; Hocken, MS0975/097.

This collection was never published, but JKB left a list of its proposed contents:

1.Ballad of the Stonegut Sugar Works.
2.Ballad of the Junkies and the Fuzz.
3.Ode on Mixed Flatting.
4.Elegy for Boyle Crescent
5.The Sad Tale of Matilda Glubb
6.The ... Maori and the pakeha Man (pakeha & Maori)
7.Caesar and the [illegible] Dungeon
8.The Old Lady and the Priest
9.The Boy and the Giant
10.The Priest who Got Married
11.The Little Hen and the Chicken Coop
12.A Talk at the Crux of the World (mountains)
13.The Four Young Women (for convent girls)
14.The Three Black Clouds (sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance)
15.The Biafran and the Blowfly

Items 1, 2 and 3 were included in Collected Poems. Items 4, 5, 9, 10 and 15 are included in Complete Prose. I have not found Nos. 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 or 14.


The Biafran and the Blowfly; Hocken MS 0975/097.

In a surviving draft of this parable JKB originally used an American, an Englishman and a Biafran. But his current preoccupations became clear when he substituted a layman and a priest for the first two characters.

The Christchurch Press (21 July 190, p. 26)reported that JKB had donated toa Biafran famine appeal fund the money which should have paid his annual income tax payment.


The Priest who Got Married; Hocken MS-0975/097.


[Do not ask about this man]; Hocken, MS-0975/097.


The Sleepy Man and the Flea; Hocken MS-0975/097.

JKB originally intended to write ‘Four Psalms of Bondage’ (poetry). He completed the first psalm and wrote one line of the second: ‘As a sleepy man rubs at a flea’. At that point he discontinued the psalm and wrote this prose parable instead. It is placed here because of its similarity to the ‘Parables of the Poor’, but following it because it is not mentioned in his list. The text of the only completed psalm of ‘Four Psalms of Bondage’ follows:

page 416

As I come through the magical doors at the airport
They vanish in front of me
And the wind is tugging at my ankles.
The Father of Lies has put up a sign
Between the wire fences and the car park:

I translate the words to myself:


My skin is white;
I have money in my pocket, though my hair is long.
Money has covered my bare feet with invisible shoes.
The city will grip me to her milkless breast
As long as I have money.


Militancy in the schools; Notes on education: for my fellow adults between thirteen and seventeen; in Affairs Magazine, Feb. 1973, pp. 12-13. A prefatory note describes it as ‘one of the last pieces written . . . before his death’.

Strands of JKB’s argument are contained in No. 501, ‘Thoughts of an Old Alligator [2]’:

Adolescence, as we have it, lasting perhaps from thirteen to eighteen – or, in the case of university students, from thirteen to twenty-five – is a state of mind created socially by a kind of brainwashing – by emotional retardation – by a common agreement that young people should not use their sexual faculties seriously until they have completed the very lengthy preparation needed for them to become fully fledged citizens of a technological society. It is a hell of a time to go through. And it does not make me happy to see the Christian injunction of chastity misused by an attempt to patch up the difficulties our type of society creates – that is, by trying to persuade young men and women who are already sexually mature that they have a moral obligation to remain single.

One of JKB’s earliest poems ‘Song of the Sea Nymphs at the Death of Icarus’ contains the lines ‘Lament, lament for Icarus . . . / He is but youthpage 417 incarnate again’. Another early poem, ‘O lands seen in the light of an inhuman dawn’, contains the lines,

... O for the flood of compassion
Of emotional understanding and human blunder.


Rigorous emotional honesty; Online. All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney / Kia Kotahi Rā: He Arawhata Ipurangi mō Tamaki Makau Rau me Poihākena / March-September 2010. / The List: Dave’s Paper and My Poem / Nigel Roberts / Dave’s Paper [Part of Nigel Roberts’s article follows.]:

In 2002 Dave Mitchell was in the final throes of completing a degree at Victoria University, a Bachelor of Arts begun & put aside many times and years before. In the course of his study at Vic he presented a paper called ‘Popular Responses to Baxter’ to his tutorial group and lecturer Paul Millar.

The paper traces his relationship with Baxter from first hearing him read to university and training college students in the late fifties, to identifying Baxter by his black and bare feet in a hospital morgue in 1972.

‘I hope I shall be excused,’ his paper begins, ‘if this presentation is largely anecdotal. I have from an early age been concerned with performance poetry, and my memories of Baxter are by and large of him onstage reading his original poems aloud.’

Mitchell’s paper then sketches his leaving New Zealand in January 1962, his readings in London, his marriage & return in late 1964 to his hometown Wellington and thence later to live and teach in Auckland where, he states, ‘the star qualities of Baxter, Barry Crump, Hilaire Kirkland, Hone Tuwhare and Mark Young popularised and promoted the success of readings’. Not mentioning himself, he finds these stars ably supported by various itinerants including Peter Bland, C.K. Stead, Riemke Emsing and younger poets at Barry Lett’s eponymous gallery.

Has anyone done a history of the Barry Lett Gallery? Someone should. An oral history at least, for in the late sixties and early seventies the Barry Lett Gallery was the forum and shopfront of New Zealand modernism; the drop-in and hangout place, the mail address, the performance and exhibition space of emerging writers and artists. ‘The venue helped,’ said Mitchell. ‘It was here that Baxter was able to relax and perform with the audience sitting or sprawled on cushions on the carpeted floor, with the current exhibition of paintings forming a mute counterpoint to the proceedings.’

Baxter’s preambles to various poems, he records, ‘caused an immediate silence and a concentration of attention which revealed to me the interest, the wonder (should I add; the astonishment!) of those audiences, in relation to this figure of the poet standing there before them looking so tattered; but in contrast when he spoke, sounding so accomplished and urbane.’

‘I quite clearly recall,’ writes Mitchell, ‘the sustained tone and pitch of the applause . . . being reminiscent of that at [a] chamber concert recital.’

page 418

With his own preamble in place, Mitchell launches into his prime anecdote.

‘One afternoon I called into the Lett Gallery & there was Baxter – alive and well, though carrying a stout walking stick/staff, and dressed in an old coat, shabby trousers – and barefoot. He produced a poem, handwritten, in ball-point pen and dated and signed, and gave this to me at a table in the Babel café restaurantwhich thenadjoined the Gallery.’

The poem, Baxter’s last, was a twenty stanza ode that is yet to be taken up by Tourism Auckland. It begins:

Auckland, you great arsehole,
Some things I like about you
Some things I cannot like.

It was Baxter’s hope that Dave would take and sell ‘Ode to Auckland’ to raise funds for the commune at Jerusalem. Dave did this soon afterwards and Baxter’s last poem was published by Trevor Reeves of Caveman Press.

‘As well as this,’ Mitchell goes on to say, ‘Baxter seemed particularly filled with advice which he figured that I as a poet younger than he (I was thirty-two) would obviously A. Need; B. accept; and C. treasure.

‘He produced a University (catholic) envelope and wrote at the top of it

“Rigorous Emotional Honesty”

which I personally found a little intrusive and irritating; but decided to let him rave on and see what the result would be. He listed seven or eight points:

“One: Express emotional states openly; e.g. weeping, embracing, punching”

‘etc. etc. and wrote these down on the envelope, reading them aloud to me as he did so. When he reached Nine he paused in his labour and looked around him for inspiration, whereupon his eye fell on the coffee percolating in the glass pot on the restaurant counter. It was but the work of a moment for him to complete his list which he then handed to me, & I read

“Nine: Pour don’t perk!”

‘A grand finale as it were, which kept us chuckling as we left and walked off down Victoria Street West; he tap tapping like Blind Pew, and I tossing a new cricket ball I had just bought from hand to hand.

‘At the corner of Queen Street he informed me that he was going up to the university, to Newman Hall, and I noticed that he was puffing a bit and seemed a little shaky. Waving my polite enquiries aside he made a beeline for the steepest part of the hill and soon disappeared from sight.

‘The next time I saw him was on a slab in the morgue, where I had been conducted, after enquiries, to pay my last respects.’

I will in a minute or so read you a poem of mine that documents (for that was my concern) a 1978 account as told to me by Dave of Baxter’s list – in its entirety I must add, and with the envelope there at hand.

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My unwitting prescience in reporting and re-telling Dave’s account in a poem called ‘The List / for / David Mitchell,’ of publishing it in 1985 and again in the Big Smoke anthology of 2000, foreshadows the down-beat remark with which Dave concluded his 2002 tutorial paper:

‘Somehow or other the sheets of handwritten poetry and the embossed envelope have disappeared from my papers.’ . . .

Roberts later found the list among Mitchell’s papers.


Confession to the Lord Christ; VUW Library, MS McKay 22/4/16. Est. date.

Frank McKay stated in his biography that the Confession was completed by July 1972, about the same time as Autumn Testament, but it is placed here to provide JKB’s own epitaph to the Complete Prose.

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