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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 8 (November 1, 1934)

New Zealand Verse

page 27

New Zealand Verse


’Tis evening, and across the ranges Long shadows creep, and soft winds blow
The tall snow-grasses lightly sway And the hills press closer, row on row.
And I hear the sound of a night bird flying,
And the distant sound of a seagull crying,
The swish of wings in the darkness dying,
And the lilt of water far below.
The night is lovely, quiet, remote, ‘Tis such that only one land knows—A land of lakes, high mountains, rivers, Where kowhai and red rata blows.
‘Tis the land where ye hear the bell-bird singing
On the bush-clad slopes to the high peaks clinging
Till their lofty heads appear upflinging
The dazzling white of eternal snows.


He saw a tree, by the tempest torn
From the mountain side, on the flood's crest borne;
And a thought took shape in his brain.
He set to work with stone and fire
To fashion the wood to his mind's desire;
And a frail craft crept to the main.
The years brought changes in his plan.
The trireme and the long-ship ran
On their rollers to the sea,
And by the sail and the oar propelled
Furrowed unknown seas, and their crews beheld
Strange coasts wrapped in mystery.
The galleon passed, and the three-decked ship;
A ship, screw-driven, ran down the slip,
And laughed at the tempest's wrath.
And came the day when no sea that rolls
To the sands of the line or the ice of the poles
But served for a brave ship's path.
He turned his gaze to the morning sky
When he heard the song of the lark on high,
And he envied the bird its flight.
He set his mind to a task again,
And knew no rest till the aeroplane
Flashed silver in full sunlight.
And I, who watched it as it flew,
Would ask is the plane but a rude canoe—
A strange seed's germinating;
And shall the sun of the day arise
When man shall pass through the distant skies
To worlds for his bold feet waiting?
And though there comes to me no reply
It is mine to dream as I gaze on high
That the growth in a seed has started;
And those to come long after me
Shall tell how a seedling became a tree
When the way to the stars is charted.

The Dreamer.

Hine-ruaki-moe the dreamer,
Daughter of sleep that is endlessly troubled,
When wilt thou rise from the arms of Te Kore?
Fettered in darkness she hears not—she dreameth
Of Tu the avenger, the red-belted fury,
The spoiler of pahs, the fighter, the bruiser,
Consumer of Tiki, devourer of tears
Of the desolate women, dishevelled, lamenting
For warriors fled to the hills of Reinga.
(Ever the knife-edge sinks in the furrow,
Ever the delicate breasts of the mourners.
Are flinted and fluted with red-lipped sorrow.)
Is there no dawning.
No light in this darkness, no swift resurrection,
No rich swelling song on the silent tongues
Of the formless phantoms drearily drifting,
Caught in the curtain obscurely veiling
The ages unborn, the shadowy domes
Poised in the starless depths of Te Kore?
The grey mist swirls, the sleeper stirs:
Her dark hair drips with the dews of pain.
Her eyes half-open; she calls in vain
The mystical name of the child that is hers.
“Te Ata, Te Ata, why dost thou linger?
Long have I sought thee, star of the morning!
Save me, O save me, from Tu the destroyer,
Tu of the small face, mocking and gibing,
With eye-sockets circled with blood of the slain.”
The white mist with its clammy breath
Laps the uneasy sleeper round—
And still the dark void holds no sound
Save the low mutterings of death.
Hine-ruaki-moe the dreamer,
Daughter of sleep that is endlessly troubled,
When wilt thou rise from the arms of Te Kore?


There are things we've seen that we can't forget,
Seen only once, we remember yet—
With you, is it Mona Lisa's eyes,
Or the evening fogs from the Thames that rise,
Or a grotesque Buddha,
A trip to Bermuda,
Glasgow, Cairo or quaint Thibet?
To Canterbury my memory clings;
And these above all other things—
The snow-capped Alps, the sweeping plain,
The rivers I crossed in the south-bound train,
Where great trout leap—
The prosperous sheep,
Haystacks, pine trees and trickling springs.

page 28