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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 12 (March 1, 1939.)

New Zealand Erse

page 23

New Zealand Erse

The Flute.

They say we have no fairyland, because
they do not know,
Because they have not trod our ways
beyond where wide roads go.
Because we have no castle towers by
dark and ruined keep.
They say we have no ghost-folk who
walk when good men sleep.
But they have not walked our woodlands
through the quiet and lonely dells,
Where the voices of the fair-haired
ones ring like the phantom bells.
They have not seen the tree-ferns droop beneath the gentle weight
Of Tane's little children when they lie
and sleep too late.
They have not seen the deep green
pools in gloomy upland glen,
When scaled and glistening Taniwha
lie close in hidden den,
And half-gods walk the pale ghost-
ways where once of old they trod
To bear their battle torches high across
the mountain sod.
Oh they have not heard … when mists
lie low upon the dim grey lake,
And voices of the spirit world are all abroad, awake …
A sweeter sound than human, when all
the rest is mute,
The whisper of the music of the
strange low fairy flute.

* * *


I bought them for a shilling in a common market-place ….
Crimson roses, velvet-petalled, dewy-sweet with old-world grace;
They should have been a corsage at some lovely lady's breast,
Or a token from a lover, to his lips one moment pressed,
Or have bloomed beside a casement where the dreams of youth were sweet,
Or have strewn a fragrant pathway for a bride's white-slippered feet.
Crimson roses, breath of romance, clothed in all their old-world grace … Yet I bou
ght them for a shilling in a common market-place.

* * *

The Lakes.

Like a tang in the wind,
Like a taste in the mouth,
Like a gleam in the eyes,
Lie the lakes of the south.
As like the gold blossom droops,
With pennants drooped lower,
They hide in the hillsides
Of Aotea Roa.
Past the wild woodland
Where still Tane tames,
Past the pale mountains
With faint, fairy names,
Past magic hilltop,
And puriri glen,
The lakelands are far
From the haunts of the men.
Beyond the strange fires
That flare in the night,
The green-glowing caves
That are hid from the light,
Beyond fiord and fell-land
And elf-haunted places,
Where the osier droops,
They have hidden their faces.
With a burden of song
That is painless and free,
In an islet of green,
In a wild swannery,
In a space that seems far
From the shadow of sorrow,
The lakelands are fair
In the lands of to-morrow.
With a swift flight of birds,
In the first morning glory,
Show Wanaka, Sunmer,
And fair Manapouri.
Like the wild flying swans
At the coming of night,
Is flooded in light.
Like a song in the ears,
Like a smile on the mouth,
Like a gleam of the eyes,
Lie the lakes of the south.
Like the strange flags that fancy
Furls high, or droops lower,
They flame down the hillsides
Of Aotea Roa.

* * *

Farmyard Sonnet.

This is the well-loved hour; a quiet land,
Dusky and drowsy under golden skies,
And animals grown beautiful and wise.
Lonely, remote, the great draught-horses stand
While sheep drift by, a meditative band
With sad calm faces; unguessed patience lies
Deep in this old dog's mournful, steadfast eyes
And cows muse in a silence rich and grand.
Back from the peaty swamp where gold pools shine
And weeds hang thick and clustered bubbles blink,
The kindly ducks come waddling in a line.
This is a sweet and holy hour I think
When all the quiet creatures, horses, sheep,
Ducks and grave cows compose themselves for sleep.

page 24