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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 10 (January 1, 1936)

New Zealand Verse

page 29

New Zealand Verse

The Death Of The Old Year: New Zealand.

On the day the Old Year died, wild was the weeping
Among the widowed months that shared his pyre.
Fast over the world the tempestuous wind came, sweeping
In a stole of leaves to light the funeral fire.
Alas, the sad tears and mourning general,
And the last small, wave to months they loved full well,
Lying like Indian widows in trappings dark and funeral,
Watching the heaving bosom of their passing-bell.
Oh, how their rosaries (linked to withered leaves)
Were told with soft and melancholy breath;
Time beats his bosom and all Mankind grieves
To see the lost months share their great lord's death.
Come now, wild wind, thou chief priest of the year,
Scatter the holy water on their eyes;
Chant wintry Latin low across each bier,
While those who watch observe how each month dies.
January, somewhat tired from stooping low
To rake the Christmas litter left behind,
Dies all unfriended. No one seems to know
Her age or rank—and no one seems to mind!
February lies weighed down with flails and books—
The thresher's mistress and the schoolboys' bane—
She clasps the grizzled wheat and sadly looks
Northward for the dark delivering rain.
And there lies March, with hat and wig awry,
Spinning beneath the easterly's rough hand.
Her mantle flogs the flames. The brown leaves fly
And the migrant birds wheel sharply from the land.
Poor April dies with scarce a sound of woe,
Shaking her bells in vain for passing showers,
And goes the way that bells and jesters go;
While May above her groans beneath scorched flowers.
Cold June, that loved the baked meats and the fire,
Finds both upon her own fast smouldering frame;
While long July, that freezes every shire
Wishes the shires would do to her the same.
Blind August that has never seen the Spring
But knows its beauty, dies with busy hands,
Making green leaves, and teaching larks to sing
For one that's dying, too. October stands
Bellows in hand, intent on Summer's flames,
And (half-bewildered by her nearing end)
November, the most passionate of dames,
Kisses and dies. The ripened fruits attend
With bursting hearts to each imperial ember
That lies in silence on the leafy bier;
And with the swift expiring of December,
Up … like a Phoenix, leaps the brave New Year.

Rain Pleasure.

One does not often see
A winter, rainswept tree
Hold out its twigs and thorns
To meet a storm. Its plea
Is that the rain adorns
It so. Hangs bladed boughs So heavily with drops
That wonder wakes and bows
From passing eyes. Breath stops
An instant at the show,
For there the raindrops grow
As if unbidden Spring
Had come, and from tiptoe,
Flung up a covering
Of flowers; each one spun
From rain glass, hanging there As if a diamond's fun
Had filled its shiny lair.
You growl, and others spite
The puddle's sweep; but sight
Of rainswept trees is gain,
I say, and sharp delight …
… I cry upon the rain—
“Come rain—again—again!”


There is a red mouth by the sea,
Unending fount of melody;
I hear it, plaintive in the wind,
This winged mouth I cannot find.
From spray it echoes hushedly,
A warning dirge, disturbing me;
And then it pipes that sea can bring,
An undiscovered comforting;
From out the samphire covered sand,
In words I cannot understand,
It hymns a murm'ring, low lament
That surges me with discontent.
Oh, Voice, no more through rain-mist sigh,
Haunt me no longer with your cry!
But hark! Through caves you peal like bells—
And leave sweet melody in shells!

page 30