Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11 (February 1, 1938)


In my opinion, Alan Mulgan has written no finer verse than in “Aldebaran,” his latest book of poems, published by the Caxton Press, Christchurch. There are only four poems in this booklet, and although Aldebaran, “a first magnitude star” (as the author explains in his prefatory note) is given pride of place, in the small constellation the brighest star to ray mind is a shorter poem, “Success.” Yet this star shines over an obliterated star—a self-made business man and the mordantly tragic picture of his obsequies. And when it is all over—

The cars move oft with a rush, released from the traffic limit of death,

Each for itself; interiors blue with smoke but lighter with gossip;

With every turn of the wheels the dead is a fainter memory…

And what of the once pampered body left behind? Let the poet speak:

Under the wide clear sky, with a cleansing wind for an acolyte

They scatter the ashes and a spot of earth is richer.

Up from the calcium, the iron, the phosphate, there will spring, perchance, a tea-tree,

In its bridal simplicity lovelier than even its fellows.

This will be sweeter than any act of his living.

“Aldebaran,” the main poem, is a grand piece of work.

* * *

Two other recent booklets of verse have reached me. First, in point of bulk, is “A Miscellany of Verse,” by Edwin J. Tapp (published by A. H. and A. W. Reed). All simple well-worn themes, yet no doubt their plain music will appeal to many. The author is best when he sings his songs to Nature. The second booklet is “The Chaplet” by Patrice Morant. Here we find a finer sense of rhythm, a wider choice of words and greater depth of thought. Perhaps the best of the eighteen or so poems is “They Crowned Him King.”

* * *

Those discerning and capable publishing people, Messrs. A. H. and A. W. Reed, of Wellington and Dunedin, have been turning out quite a number of books over the last few months. Two fine travel books are probably the best of this output. “Out On the Road,” by Ralph Byers, a very fine and beautifully produced book, and “English Theme,” smaller hi size, yet of average format, by Margaret Johnston. I will refer to the latter book in this issue because it was published first, leaving the larger book for review next month. Miss Johnston's book should have a very wide public. It concerns a journey she made recently through England and Scotland. The authoress has what one might call a chatty style. It is full of “small talk” of the most interesting kind. Now and again she breaks off to admire the beauties of Nature and here her pen pictures are almost photographic. The several photographic illustrations are quite good, and the poetic embellishments of “A.W.” complete an excellent publication.

* * *

Denis Glover of Christchurch, is a clever young writer, but not clever enough yet to flash the rapier of satire. He has attempted this in his lampoon “The Arraignment of Paris.” He attacks one or two unnamed gentlemen in the New Zealand literary world, but after a few lines drops the rapier and seizes the bludgeon. He then becomes somewhat crude in his attack. This is a pity, for Denis Glover is meant for, and is capable of, much better things.

* * *

One of the several fields in which “Art in New Zealand” encourages art and literature in this country is its annual one-act play competition. In the latest number of the quarterly is announced the result of its last competition, also the winning play is printed. The successful entry comes from Helen Brookfield, Auckland, who has certainly. written a play of even merit. The judge of the competition mentions that a play by Robin Hyde would have shared the honours but for the fact that it failed to keep within the specified length. The literary side of the latest issue is well up to the high standard of the quarterly, while in the art section there are three fine colour pages and several pages in black and white.

* * *