The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 3 (June 1, 1938.)
New Zealand Erse
New Zealand Erse
Heavy wi’ honey and the scent of flowers
The valley lies all hazy in the sun
While cross the rambling ribbon of the road
A quail and all her frightened chickens run…..
I can remember when the road was naught
But a thin track half hidden by the trees
And the two oxen that my man'd bought
Went stumbling wi’ the bracken to their knees.
I can remember how the wheels’ dry scream
Mounted like keening on the riven air
And how the very shadow of a dream
Seemed pressing on my eyes and on my hair.
I can remember how at last we won
Out to the clearing, here beside the creek
And how the stubborn tussock grass had run
All down the place we'd come so far to seek.
I can remember how the warm earth's breath
Sucked round the plough that we had brought from Home,
And how the dazed earth-creatures met their deat
On the first steel to bite the heavy loam.
I can remember all adown the days
The things that happened as the valley grew.
And how the land was moulded by our ways
How in the end it taught us all we knew.
I can remember—for there's no need now
To stifle thinking as the body tires,
No need to put a weary hand to plough
Or stoop and bake and stir before the fires.
But still it's hard to feel the job is done
And there's no need to meet the bustling hours,
And somehow I feel restless in the sun
Among the honey and the scent of flowers.
* * *
Bold ships of the sealers, beating to the Solanders,
Tall-masted Frenchmen; brigs of old Dundee,
Square - shouldered whale - ships, six months out of Nantucket,
Never more their bluff bows shall cleave the Southern Sea.
Never more the whale-ships, from forefoot to rigging,
Flickering in the try-works’ murky leaping glare,
Drive before the night wind, like wild ships out of Hades,
Lighting all the waters with their savage flare.
Never more the gambling in the shore-way grog shops,
And dicing, and drinking, with the rum casks drawn.
And fighting, and laughter, and drunken voices singing.
And the trade ships from Sydney standing in the dawn.
But if some moonless midnight, all ships returned to anchor.
Sealer, brig, and whale-boat, how close we'd see them lie!
With pale crews, for look-out, and Steersman, and captain,
And pale seagulls circling the masts against the sky.