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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 9 (December 1, 1936)



Broadly the valley rolls towards the hills,
Bosoms the farms oblivious of the sea,
Rolls towards ramparts of ridges, home of the hawk,
Hills not to be won by laboured patient hooves
At plough—harrow only of frost
May score these steep ravines, crumble these rocks.
Here wander the weathered flocks, makes home
The hardy rabbit, tussock grown wind-weary.
Ah, here's no happy farm feathered with wheat,
No farmyard hen scratching familiar earth,
No friendly light to warm a traveller's eye.
—The hills lie watchful, massed against attack,
Guarding their only gift, their solitude.
And where the spurs are dark and closely ranged
Water in urgent fury leaps the rocks,
Turbulently raids the smiling plain.
Making mountain war, here river wandered
With no easy gait or broad assurance.
Harrowed and narrowed, mountainpent, rock-locked,
Tunnelling the high hill's heart, scouring at clay,
Torn waters snouted earth, roared in ravine,
Swung potently against the fathomed bluff.
Stronger than this, eyes' focussed wedge
Laid bare the river's bed, measured the mountain,
Mortared the shattered rock, and built the dam.
Moon now hangs white over the altered scene
Where stars reflect themselves and nightbound bird
Dips as the wavelets lap low island mounds.
The traveller's heart lifts at enchanted change,
Chance product of the purposed search for power.
Making new contours, drowning tree and crop,
Filling the empty air between the hills
With quiet inundation, lies the lake.
The peace of water settles over the stern hills.
Slow water sails towards a blinding brink,
One moment at the brink timeless it hangs,
Creams over the lip, carpets the smooth slope,
Joyously leaps, and—shattered, troubled air
Trembling with music where the blown spray hangs—
Thunders to freedom in the stormy pool.
The dynamos deep-seated there
Give joy its tongue, and fill the rainbow air
With high contented song:
To them belong
The sluicing waters' powers
And unfold endless hours
As flood feeds day and night
Insatiably their appetite.
Nerve-centre of the wire
Is keyed like lyre,
Its insulators like notes on high
Of some great fugue written across the sky.
From here the wire goes leaping dale and hill
On pylons of latticed and singing steel.
Here on the broken earth small houses perch
And nursling trees, and small transplanted flowers
Precariously root in trampled clay.
Dust-drowned by swaying cars township knows heat,
And frost in winter, bitter mountain wind.
But always water thunders from the brink,
The harnessed races give their singing power,
Unwinking lights keep watch upon the dark,
And after nightmare journey through the hills
The river smoothly slides away to sea.