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The New Zealand Survey

Canto First

page 1“New Zealand Survey”: Page 1.

Canto First.

Wonder; PastWho may look back on unrecorded time,
And feel unawed at the momentous view;
When nothing but what is sublimely great
Unfolds itself in every phase and form?—
Poetry; Past; Future; Nature; ImaginationThen oh! what words can lab’ring thoughts employ
T’express the feelings felt, or ev’n pourtray
Those scenes majestic passing in review
Before th’ imagination, as we aim
To trace their causes, from th’ effects produced?—
All stereotyped, and stamped indelibly
On Nature’s ample page! From such we dare
Bring forth to light, what long has lain concealed
In darkness—deeds now buried in the past,
As deep as those in far futurity,
The subject only of prophetic lore!—
But of the past, the Muse may dare unfold,
Such deeds, traced in the foot-prints of events,
Which have transpired, and long since passed away!

Poetry; Past; PerceptionNature’s interpreters, if Poets be,
While on their souls, as clearly photographed
Her features are,—a real image fair
Reflected, as if in a mirror’s sheen
Men see their likeness chastely shewn, and true,—
page 2“New Zealand Survey”: Page 2. For she a language speaks, which none but they
Know how t’unravel, or its sense expound:
A language, though in human words unclad,
Yet may expounded be, and must be heard,
As when a truth’s impressed upon the heart,
Which will find utterance, not to be restrained,
Or from the tongue, or through the pliant pen
As prompted by a power, to which one feels
Obliged to yield obedience, while therein
His chief enjoyments lie—a rich reward!
Poetry; Religion; NatureIf such an office, as interpreter
Of nature’s language, be on me imposed
By Him who made us, as He saw most fit,
According to His purpose,—be it mine
To give expression to an impulse felt,
As giv’n through what’s presented to the eye,
A pleasing spectacle!—meanwhile the Muse
Craves what assistance, He to grant may deign,
To aid our efforts in this humble lay.

Now on this lofty ridge, which overlooks
Hutt’s upper valley—Erratonga’s course
Meand’ring wildly; while behind me lies
The marsh of Mungaroa;—here I lean
To rest my limbs, fatigued with upward toils,
This steep ascending through much tangled brake
And fern untrodden; thus at ease I breath
More freely the fresh air, and Perception; Wonder; Naturefondly view
Surrounding scenery of the grandest kind
In native splendour, unadorned by man;
And of variety, that makes one feel
Spell-bound in admiration of the whole!—
page 3“New Zealand Survey”: Page 3. Each part can its own history declare,
While ev’ry mark maintains the tale is true;
And Imagination; Pastlike a courier, on the wings of time,
Th’ imagination’s borne, and carried far
Into the past in vision, there to see
As by the starlight, things in darkness hid:
Ev’nPerception; Changeeach wild scene’s progression to that state
It now assumes; or what was once obscure,
Made plain, by what appearances declare!

Yon distant hills, an undulating scene
Of sloping ridges,—height surmounting height,
With fleecy clouds which hov’ring, float between,—
Bespeak a grandeur not to be surpassed,
While lightened by the sun’s meridian beams;
While over all the Tararua range
Extending far, and clad with lucid snow,
Would form a barrier to the roving eye,
Which fain would know what farther lies beyond!
Land; Work; PoetryWhile all those hills of sunlit varied shade
Of foliage in their groves of evergreen,
Although inviting to th’ admiring muse,
They yet appear as unapproachable
To interprizing man! Though he the vale
Must needs subdue:—“Thus far ye need not come,”
They seem to say “but Land; Work; Wonderleave our frigid heights
And lofty seated forests to ourselves!
As we thy admiration still may claim,
To cheer you ’mid the cares of worldly toils!”—
Those broken ridges, rugged with deep dells
And steep declevities—yet Naturemantled o’er
With Nature’s ample robe—form as ’t were ribs
page 4“New Zealand Survey”: Page 4. Projecting from the backbone of some huge
Unweildly monster petrified, o’ergrown
With vegetation; while from ev’ry rib
Again shoot downward various other ribs,
By smaller dells divided;—these would claim
The great rib as their spine! All such, combined,
With forests clad ev’n to their frigid heights,
Can no inducement offer, yet, t’attempt
Ocean; Perception; WorkTheir reclamation from their prestine state;
As such would be like sacrificing means
And energies in vain; while let alone
In all their savage grandeur, to the eye
Those hills would seem like ocean’s mighty waves
O’er either rising, when by tempest tossed;
Joy; Perception; WonderThey form a prospect charming to behold,
As seen before the distant azure sky,
And gilded by the sun’s enliv’ning beams;
Such, ev’ry other thought, save to admire,
Absorbs, and fills the mind with calm delight!
There, truly Arts; Perception; Wonderto the painter’s muse unfolds
A scenery richly picturesque and grand
Apart from ought of tameness, as to need
Some fancy touches of his penciling art
T’ attractth’ observer’s wonder loving eye!

Now see yon long ravine, that winds afar
Among the hills,—this no doubt leads the way
To fertile valleys, hitherto unknown,
As Future; Changehid from view in lonely solitudes
Untrod by man; but yet the time will come
When such must be explored, when enterprize
Fresh scope demands!—But see, on either side
page 5“New Zealand Survey”: Page 5. Of that ravine, the hills as bending low
Their heads before each other, seem to pay
Obeisance to the stream in its debouch
From lonely wilds, or hear its purling song
While flowing by their base. This is the course
The Erratonga, from its distant rise
Rolls forth its floods, not without many leaps
O’er shelving rocks, or down deep caverns, worn
By constant pouring waters.
Work; Prosperity; ChangeMay not these (1)

Cascades of solitude, which long have spent
Their force in vain, as having none to guide,
Be brought in requisition yet, to aid
Laborious enterprize; or be the scene
Of lively industry, in busy mills
Engaged in various labours, as the source
Of inward wealth? Empire; Colony; Change; CivilisationThis land would thus tread close
The heels of mother country in the march
Of civilization, and improvements vast
Affecting much the southern world at large
In various ways!—As when a light appears
Where darkness reigned, and in whose farthest reach
That light is seen, though dimly, yet it bears
Its due proportion to the good designed!—
Change; EmpireSo may this land take up improvement’s work,
Become the centre, whence may radiate
Much good around, like Britain in her rise;
Yea ev’n surpass her with achievements great,
Of which, the sires of future progenies,
Here, ne’er had dream’d! But notwithstanding all,
Colony; Nature; Home; Change; FutureThose pilgrim fathers, who have bravely left
page 6“New Zealand Survey”: Page 6. Much settled comforts in their former homes;
Who hither came, as prompted by a law
Of nature, to seek out some fresh abode,
And so rejoice the wilderness; thus, these
Their parts are now performing, which are based
On the improvements of enlightened times,
Although in outline roughness they appear;
Future; MemoryAnd blest be such beginnings, as they tend
To realize great things in other days!
Such works, in truth, a monument of praise
Should be regarded by each rising race;
Such ought in due remembrance to be held
In memory of their fathers, as they reap
The fruits of former labours, while they build
Their fortunes on the broad foundation, laid
For their convenience, as those waters, they
To active service call, and Future; Change; Natureamid scenes
Quite changed from ancient wildness!
—But meanwhile

As Erratonga rolls its current on
Through shady covert, or through narrow gorge
Or winding its long circuit round the base
Of interlocking hills, or forest glades,
It draws its tribute from the many dells
It passes, all alike distilling pure
The crystal drops of water:—There at first
From rocky crevices or mossy shelves
On craggy steeps, with moisture loving growths
Of vegetation clad, th’ exuding drops
Of water oozing out they trickle down
Through loose sand shingle, or through other mould
page 7“New Zealand Survey”: Page 7. Of slimy soil, as hiding from the eye,
The accumulating process, till the rill
Shoots down some moss grown rock, with stilly sound,
A small cascade; thus each ravine will add
Its gatherings to the importance of the stream,
Ere entering on its journey through the vale.

New Zealand Flora and Fauna; Perception; JoyHow pleasant ’tis, when all appears serene,
Beneath the sunshine and an azure sky;
When the green forest, in its various shades
Of vernal livery, much delights the eye
With variegated beauties; and effects
A soothing influence on reflective minds,
Though ruffled much by life’s distracting cares!—
But what a contrast, when those mountain tops
Enshrouded are ’mid clouds of murky hue,
As if some curtain veiled them from the sight
Of vulgar eyes, as sacred they’d become,
Like Sinai’s top! or as they had retired
From off the stage of “Beauty!”—Then, no more
The fleecy curling clouds, that play’d between
Those Alpine ridges, seem allowed t’exist;
While those of sable sadness take their place,
In cheerless gloom! Now the fierce driving gales
Displacing the soft zypher, dash the clouds
Against the mountain sides, thus pouring out
Their floating waters round their hoary heads,
Dissolving much of their perpetual snow,
Which washes down their steeps! Then trickling rills
Are changed to rapid currents, pouring down
The dells in headlong haste, with turbid foam
As former purling music could no more
page 8“New Zealand Survey”: Page 8. Give joy, while changed into the cataract’s din!
Thus each ravine, with rapid roaring floods,
Swells high the passing river, risen much
Beyond its calm dimensions, as no more
To be compared to what ’twas wont to be!
WarNow a great turgid torrent, raging high
Beyond all bounds, it rushes foaming on
With deaf’ning noise, as heav’n’s artillery
Of thunders uttered one continuous roar!
All oppositions in its way must yield
Forced by its weight, and a resistless front
As billows roll o’er billows without end.
What awful haste! as one would from the grasp
Of deadly foe, which followed in pursuit
And hard behind, endeavoured to escape,
While desperation in the effort reigned!
The swollen waters, where they can expand,
They deluge; burying much beneath their foam.
But when an op’ning offers an escape
They rush with headlong haste, and furious sweep,
The ancient bound’ries sapping, tearing down
The banks, as labouring for ample scope,
While with them trees and bushes from their seats
Fall splash into the floods; then with full swoop
They’re borne off on the current as its prize!
Now the prevailing waters, much embrown’d
With pilfered mud, throughout the valley spread,
Which seem from hill to hill a turbid sea;
While some mere spot, exception to the rule,
Looks like an isle about to be o’erflowed!

The flood’s progression, in its rise, as through
page 9“New Zealand Survey”: Page 9. The forest flowing, greatly is in check,
As there are great obstructions to its course;
But when into some clearing it has come,
The current seems momentum fresh to gain
In its free course, which Loss; Workno small damage brings
Upon the cottager, by washing off
His seed sown soil, thus rend’ring labours vain; (2)
Or in its season bringing to disuse
The winning hay ere such can be secured:
HomeHe, as imprisoned in his domicile,
Feels much akin to Noah in his ark,
And looks out on the waters rushing by
With anxious eye, yet hoping he’s above
The water’s reach, which otherwise might mar
The comfort of his dwelling, ev’n although
On piles ’tis seated high above the ground!
Thus patiently he watches, marking oft
The water’s rising by some gauge employed,
Until its height’s attained, and seems to stay:
Aye then how thankful! When he can descry
The flood’s decreasing depth, he draws a breath
Of fullest satisfaction, feeling glad
That he no worse is dealt with, Loss; Work; Prosperityhopes next morn
He may his needful toils resume; but then
How changed his hopeful prospects, when he sees
The mischief done, with much of labour lost!
But this, he now considers quite beyond
His power to check; such nerves him to proceed
With noble ardour to repair the harm,
Still Religionlooking up to Him who knows to turn
Such wayward crosses to some future good!
page 10“New Zealand Survey”: Page 10. (’Tis better thus, than thoughtlessly to mourn
O’er some hard fortune one thinks he sustains,
Yet doing nothing to repair the loss;
In such all manliness is nill, which strives
To throw contempt on Providence most wise!)—
LossContent he feels, he may not have sustained
Such loss, he may have learned, that is endured
By others, when their cattle were surprized,
Beyond the power of being got secured,
And borne off by the current of the stream!
Religion; Perception; MoralityIn all, the hand of Providence he sees,
As trying how one’s energies may meet
The magnitude of great emergencies;
Or training him to fortitude, to cope
With greater trials should they e’er occur,
As something yet unseen, held in reserve!—
Or prove that worldly gains are shadows all,
After the struggling one has such t’ obtain!
A means by which great lessons are us taught
If such we are inclined to understand.

When the subsiding waters have retired,
The clearing grounds thus leaving, then is seen
What devastations have been therein wrought,
As well as what of interest may be bared,
As if t’ amuse the sufferer with new thoughts
As compensation for the loss sustained;
Change; Wonder; Imagination; Nature; PastThus where the waters have scooped furrows deep
In cultivated soil, as well as where
The river’s banks are broke, like some wild freak
Of Nature’s fancy, will some mystery strange
Itself discover, in some buried tree,
page 11“New Zealand Survey”: Page 11. Or other wreck of yore, long long entombed,
Now bared, o’er which great forest trees have grown
In size majestic, quite a wonderment
How long such wrecks have lain embedded deep
Mid clay or gravel?—all bespeaking change!—
Or how such great accumulations rose
Above?—Or when the present forest now
Of seeming great maturity first sprung?—
Past; PhilosophySuch thing excite to speculations deep,
As drawing back the curtains of the past,
Declaring what was secret to all ken!