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The New Zealand Survey

Canto Second

“New Zealand Survey”: Page 11.

Canto Second.

Perception; Science; Religion; Change; War; PastNow looking round contemplating the scene
As it before me lies—combined with what
Is farther known, more than is here discerned:—
All speak of revolutions in the past!

Perception; Arts; SocietyHowever much of pleasure we conceive
In those appearances, which meet the eye,
Like one’s sweet smile, that would a fellow greet
Yet clothing some strange workings of the mind
All outwardly unseen, a secret kept,
While planning alterations in affairs
Which no one else must know, until that time
Arrives such to develope; or perhaps
Hide some strange doings hitherto concealed
From public view, and not to be divulged,—
Save what some little foible might disclose
page 12“New Zealand Survey”: Page 12. Were such examined,—let unheeded pass
As all had ever been, as now assumed,
In what appears attractive, to invite
Confiding trust so cheerfully bestowed:
Perception; Arts; Past; Change; Wonder; NatureSo here, though clothed in Nature’s vernal robes
This scene delightful, calling forth our praise,
And admiration, still, all speak of change
And revolutions buried in the past;
But which oblivion fails such things to veil,
Though such might ’scape the less enquiring eye
That doats on beauty, willing to admire!

Perception; Wonder; Nature’Tis well should we with sense of the sublime,
Endeavor information to increase
From Nature and her works! ’Tis well though we
Should excavate our knowledge from earth’s depths,
Or glean it from the surface, where such signs
Protrude themselves, as ’twere unwittingly,
To prompt th’ enquiring mind t’ interrogate
Appearances around! So, whence those hills
All clustering together, by ravines
Both deep and large, disparted? Land; Religion; Science; PhilosophyHave they stood
As they appear, since first the great command
Was given, “Let there be!” and earth uprose?—
And that long wooded valley, has it been
Of old the forest as it now appears?—
Or have th’ extending plains which lie beyond
Yon mountains, as report assures they’re there,
With Wairarapa, and that district known
As Ahuriri, more extensive still,—
Land; ColonyAll begging for inhabitants to come
To take possession of their fertile soils,—
page 13“New Zealand Survey”: Page 13. Land; Nature; Philosophy; ScienceHave these been always as they now exist?

Or say, has all this scenery’s whole extent,
Nay all the country wide from shore to shore
From genial North to the less genial South
Been, as some would declare? surmising thus—
“These are the heights of some great continent,
Which filled the Southern ocean once, now sunk
By Nature’s fiat; these the remnants left
Above the waves, when earthquakes shook below
The ocean’s level, ev’ry spreading plain!
While now existing plains were once the heights
Of table mountains, and the many hills
Were loftier ridges, rising, clad with snows,—
The Continents great Alps!—Those valleys but
The ancient river courses, where once rolled
Their torrents, issuing from their founts on high,
Where many a glacier sparkled in the sun,
All stored in regions cold!” But look around
And room we find for theories diverse
From that advanced, which now may be declared!

Colony; Ocean; CommerceLand; Nature; Philosophy; Science; TechnologyTime verily there was, as all around
Can testify, ’gainst risk of much dispute,
When o’er those summits roll’d the ample waves,
Of boundless ocean, shewing an expanse, (1)
Round which but seemed to rest th’ etherial dome!
And there the great leviathans of the deep,
In their disport, have gamboled monster forms
Mid oceans, to all enterprise unknown;
Which enterprise, had such been exercised,
Might oft have proved destructive to their joys,
As buoyantly they scaled those heights, or dived
page 14“New Zealand Survey”: Page 14. Exploringly among the hollow caves.
No speculations then had launched the barque
To plough the welt’ring waters, as they were
Yet unsubdued to traffic’s servitude:
Nor spreading canvas yet had been unfurled
To catch the wanton winds that sportive tossed
The deep into confusion in their strength!—
As the untamed Arabian horse, which bounds
In heedless joys athwart his native sands,
And which he tosses high with hasty feet;
Thus of his fleetness proud, yet spent in vain!—
Ocean; ScienceThe winds, uninstrumental to the use
Of navigation’s science, gave their force
In idle frolic, waging ruthles war
On the great briny desert of the South:
And in return, the waves, to anger chafed,
Would heave and foam with much of vengeful ire,
And kindling fury, as the clouds of heaven,
In their alliance, lent the thunder’s voice
T’ outdo the roarings of the tempest’s trump!
While flashed the foam, as by th’ electric flame
Surcharged in aid, from light’ning’s magazine,
To give resistance with its fluid fire,
Which raging billows send up in the spray,
As fain to scorch the winds, or warding off
Th’ interminablebuffettings endured!

Thus, the commotions of the elements
In wanton, profitless, contentions joined,
Without the intervention of an isle
With length of shore, or mountain’s lofty range
That might at least break something of their rage,
page 15“New Zealand Survey”: Page 15. Society; Peace; WorkAs mediators aid in making peace
Between two rivals in dominion’s strife!
Such like to hoards of rude barbarians, who
No other occupation have t’ engage
Attention from the thoughts of fancied wrongs,
Used as pretexts for some usurping feud,
With no foundation, nor a reason why
To give it colour;—nor some enterprize
Of nobler aspect, cultivating peace!—
Society; Commerce; Ocean; Technology; WarAye ev’n at such a time, those southern wastes
Unknown, uncalled for lay; when northern gales
And briny waters have been seized upon,
As some necessity or other cause
Had urged, and them to active service brought,
Like fellow bondsmen; each his task to do,
In forwarding some merchant’s laden’d bark,
Advancing much his interests, and the weal
Of such communities of sea-girt isles;
(The sea, the highway chief of seaboard states;
When seamanship was rude, and crafts but small,
Long voyages were made in sight of land!)—
Or they have been in requisition called
For warriors’ gallies, as they sped to explore
New fields for conquest, in their lust for power!

Ocean; Past; LandAt such a time, this island’s loftiest peaks
From now-styled Egmont, to Kaikoura’s range
Or other alpine ranges, where they rear
Their summits to the clouds, all nameless then;
With ev’ry other hill like those around,
Were—what?—but mere embryos, all unseen
As closed within a womb!—were all immersed
page 16“New Zealand Survey”: Page 16. In ocean’s depths, where no terrestrial thing
Could breathe the breath of life! There wriggled forth
The huge sea-serpent round their rugged rides—
If eminences they had been below;—
While dolphins o’er their summits used to ride
Upon the swelling waves; meanwhile the shark
Among the rocky caverns far below
Lurk’d tiger-like, or with voracious need
Pursued the hapless prey. Society; Oppression; Sadness; NatureWhile many shoals
Of various kinds of fish, all more inclined
To be gregarious, like some beastial tribes
Of terra-firma, o’er the length and breadth
Of space now occupied with these whole isles,
Pleased with their ample scope, would journey on
As sent the prey of others in their need,
Whose whole employment seem but to devour!
Which are by others preyed upon in turn—
An intermingling constant ruthless war,
One ’gainst the other—strong against the weak,
The weak content to feast upon the dead
Of those that had devoured their ancient sires!
There the cetaceous tribes of every kind,
Free from all hinderances, at large have ranged
And spouted high the volumes of each draught
Inhaled, as breathing, like some jet-de-eau,
Which forms a lofty march of show’ry rain,
When to the waves returning! Work; Change; NatureNo pursuit
Of hardy whaler had they then to fear!
They liv’d their natural life time out with joy!

And on the ocean’s bed, or high, or low,
Great part the surface of Landthis modern isle,—
page 17“New Zealand Survey”: Page 17. Modern compared with many elsewhere found;—
There rank sea-weed and flaccid tangle grew
Abundantly, where burrow’d the sea-snake;
There lived that link which would connect the plant
With animal existence! So the sponge
As ’twere, within itself, would give the hand
Of fellowship to lichens by its side
And to the tiny insect it devoured!
And there the polypus which fixed its root
Aground, would stretch its radiated arms
Afloat around in quest of needful food!
While on the rugged rocks the oysters clung!
Ocean; SocietyAnd there the muscle and the cockle moored
Their dwellings all secure, and sought their prey:
While many others, there of varied kind,
In like communion lived! and amongst them crawled
Things of unsightly shape, and curious form,
Each skillful in his art of catching food;
Though each, on neighb’ring tribes, blackmail demands,
Yet still to all there seem’d a full supply,
As one were made the other to sustain!

Above, on the horizon’s ample scope,
There the broad pinioned albatross would range,
Now high, now low, describing spacious curves,
Or some great circle, upward, Perceptionwith an eye,
Quick sighted, looking down in quest of prey!
Or would she sit on billows in their swell
Or low depression (there to rest the wing,)
With all becoming grace!—Sciencemeanwhile a shark
Preparing with expanded jaws to snap
The graceful bird at rest; but haply warned
page 18“New Zealand Survey”: Page 18. As by electric shock, it makes escape!
The danger o’er, all other fears are null,
As she in her gyrations still pursues
Her avocation, skimming oft the waves
In search of food, or, resting, such t’enjoy!

PerceptionAnd there, the seagull would its way pursue,
In search of prey; now soaring up on high,
As on a watch tower raised, a greater field
Of vision downwards it obtains, to gain
More success in its search, than skimming low,
And with precision, mark the destined prey;
Which, when espied, to take, its nature’s prompt
As with an arrow’s speed, it downward darts
With steady aim, beneath the wave it dives
With close laid wing the victim to secure!—
NatureThe sea-gulls winging round in active flight,
Now rising high, then dipping low, they’ve swept
Along the surface, and their prey pursued
According as their nature’s would direct;
With no land near to circumscribe their bounds.

And there, the petrels, those of giant kind,
Have had their hunting grounds; from time unknown,
They’ve come and gone, as instinct would them guide,
In common with all others; then they found
No land to mar migration’s progress here!
New Zealand Flora and Fauna; Ocean; ScienceThere Carey’s chickens have in numbers flocked,
Gregarious in their habits, their approach,
As heralds of the storm to other tribes
Have proved—a sign to haste to fairer climes,
Where peace and sunshine reigned; while they themselves
As seamen good, to dangers well innured,
page 19“New Zealand Survey”: Page 19. Would brave the tempest, breast the dashing spray,
And live amid the storm, while riding o’er
The rolling foaming waves, where other tribes
Might fail, and be o’ercome, a sorry wreck!
But, then, no mariner was there to read,
From their appearance, “warning” to take in
The swelling canvas ere it be too late,
And so prepare the hurricane to meet;
And nought was there to mark the rising tides,
Or shew their ebbing—all was an expanse
Of weltering ocean drear, without a shore!
Save when some mighty icebergs, wand’ring far
From the cold South, broke loose from moorings where
They had their massive forms,—great monster growths
Of humid air congeal’d—vapour condensed
And crystalized, a frigid solid bulk
Of ice, and mountain like, while freighted much
With rocky masses, as from craggy cliffs
They sundered were, and thus borne far from home!
(Thus many boulder masses to be found
On hill and glen would loud themselves declare
Exotic in their natures—strangers here!—
And how they have been dropped in ocean’s depth,
From th’ icy holds, beneath the melting heat
Of the hot clime, to which they had been driven!)
Such icebergs were the only islands then,
Although of evanescent nature, which
Served, for a period short, to be the butt
’Gainst which the waves would dash, as ’gainst some coast
Of beetling craggs, to spend their force, until
Such mock craggs wasted were—become “no more!”
page 20“New Zealand Survey”: Page 20. Ocean; Past; FutureAllowing all free scope for rolling seas,
Along that space yet destined to become
A scene of strange convulsions, when in birth
Old ocean must bring forth another isle;
One, yet to rise to eminent renown!