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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 5 (August 1, 1935)

New Zealand Verse

page 31

New Zealand Verse

The River.

I am fed by spring and rivulet, by rains
and pale snows thawing,
I accept the humble tribute of a
thousand tiny rills,
I am strong and rude and masculine,
my leaping life-blood drawing
From the everlasting waters of the
everlasting hills.
By the giant forest kauri I have
watched a savage nation
Armed with spear and axe of greenstone,
ages ere the white man came,
And with calm, detached appraisal some
far-distant generation
Yet unborn, almost undreamt of, I
shall gaze on just the same.
Though they dam my surging waters,
though my current be suspended,
I defy the puny human to retard my
As I flow into the Ocean where my
voice is ever blended
With the everlasting murmur of the
everlasting sea.
Through the City's teeming panic I
glide on aloof, unflurried,
By the sandbanks, through the rushes,
past green fields and Maori pa;
O'er the deeps with oily chuckle,
through the narrows madly hurried
As I bear the full flood waters to the
distant leaping bar.

* * *

Under Way.

There's monotony and boredom in the
salt South seas
When we cannot get a slant of wind
to ease the sails away,
But there's thrill and joy and freedom
in a nine knot breeze
When the ozone whips the wave tops
off and tightens ev'ry stay.
Creepy things and barnacles and grey-green
Hang below the plimsoll line in waters
deep and calm,
But brisk and bustling breezes from
the snow-bound South
Come rippling and come ramping with
a cool and cleanly balm.
So shake out all the tops'ls and the
tweens'ls set;
Rig up a forrard spinnaker to lift
away the bows.
We'll run our little cargo into Auckland
We'll clap on all the canvas that a
schooner-rig allows.
We will never lie a-gasping ‘neath the
main mast more,
A-praying for the cap o' wind that
never seems to come;
We are heading hurly-burly for our
old home shore,
We are hurly-burly flying for our
island home.
Then march around the capstan with
a sturdy tramp
The halliard's on the winding-drum,
there's whistling in the shrouds
As we haul, and sing our chanties,
while we heave and stamp
The good old ship is scudding with the
big black clouds.

* * *


May has tipped the stately poplar,
Elm, and oak, and beech with flame.
Leaves of beaten gold and emerald,
Leaves that might the rainbow shame
Sigh beside me, but their beauty
Soon the breath of winter chills.
Lanes of whispering gold and purple
Seek the far, blue, distant hills:
Hills that beckon, draw me ever
Till I climb their grassy sides;
See before me sea and sunset,
And the restless, flame-tipped tides:
Neptune's cloak of royal purple,
Slashed with gold, and edged with fire.
All the colours of the Autumn
Tint the waves of my desire.
Time there was—but why remember?
Yesterday is dead. To-day
Autumn paints the earth with beauty;
Leave the sea and come away.
Leave the sea, but not its memory;
Keep its peace; forget its strife.
Leaves like snowflakes tinged with
Strew the road to cheer my life.

The Spell.

There seemed to be a spell upon the
So still it was, so very strange and
And lit with such a dim, unearthly
Some place beneath the sea it might
have been.
So were the great pines silent, stricken
I harked in vain to hear the tui's
That satyr gum-tree not an inch did
To lean and touch the birch-tree's
tangled hair,
Whilst she, the nymph, so deep in
sleep did seem,
That satyrs entered not her soulless
Some one had put a spell upon the
I scarce did move, it was so strangely
When, suddenly across the sullen
The wind came, helter-skelter, riding
He leaned and lashed the pine-trees
with his thong,
Who woke, exultant, to tumultuous
The satyr strained his arms the
nymph to clasp.
She swayed her slim, white body from
his grasp.
Then, with a mighty clamour, came
the rain,
And, faint, a fairy flute was heard
Oh! Such a wild outcry I ne'er did
Upon the hill this many and many a
The rain, the wind, the shouting of
the trees,
And I, in rapture, shouting with all
Because the hill once more was friend
to me;
The spell was broken—and the hill
was free!