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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 7 (October 2, 1939)

New Lealand Verse

page 18

New Lealand Verse

Aotea Harbour.

Round deep-blue shores where seaweed-drift and shell
Shine by the lazy washing of the seas,
The little valleys lie. No tongue can tell
The strange wild history of these.
Deserted villages, a vanished race,
Gone from the nets and fields of toil,
Gone from this pleasant seaward place,
No footprints in the fallow soil.
Where tribal conqueror trod a trail of blood,
The conquered sleep within the pale sea-caves,
With blue tide filtering at the flood,
And water-lights, and gentle sound of waves.
They sleep serene; yet still about these bays
Remains some imprint of their sterner days—
A melancholy dignity and grace
That Time shall never manage to efface.

* * *

A Night of Stars.”

It is a night of stars,
Clear-cut and cold against a frozen sky,
Like diamonds showing
On a velvet cloth.
There is a pale white moon,
Too dim to shine amidst her rival gems,
Like jewels ruling
In a chest of glass.
This is a night to walk
By the sea's edge along a lonely road,
A human gazing
At the silent sea.
The mind is void of thought,
Intent—the breath falling in jerky haste,
Like misty sea-spray
On an unseen reef.
This is a night of stars,
A winter night athrob with freezing ire,
And coldly dying
For a winter day.


About this crooked manuka's Impoverished, unlovely form,
She wreathed her gleaming loveliness
To hide the ravages of storm
And time. The bowed limbs spoke to her
Of high endeavour, battles fought
And lost; of dreams unrealised;
Of struggling life so dearly bought.
So, with her green luxuriance
She gently veiled the cruel scars,
And on the drooping, once-bright head
She laid a wondrous crown of stars.

* * * *

That Which the Gypsies Know.

The time is here to gather gear,
And as we have before.
To roll a pack for lands out back,
And hike along once more.
To hike again beyond the plain
Up through a foothill gate,
Where with their charm the pine and palm,
In grace and beauty wait.
So let's away at dawn of day,
Together let us go,
By vale and peak once more to seek
That which the gypsies know.
Where ratas cling and tuis sing,
And snow-fed waters fall,
And trails are steep and gorges deep,
And whistling blue-ducks call.
There in some glade that Nature's made,
While robins come to peep,
We bide awhile in gypsy style,
By pools where brown trout sleep.
While pigeons croon a forest tune,
And tell an ancient tale,
Go as you like, but we will hike
Along a mountain trail.
And through the haze of lofty ways,
Where blooms the edelweiss,
We'll tramp along unto a song
That's known to them and us.
Awhile we'll stop on some high top,
Where breezes gently blow,
While all the world is laid unfurled
For us who gaze below.
Then on we'll go till sunset's glow
Has draped the range in gold,
And bellbird calls and twilight falls,
And night her stars unfold.
As smoke-rings coil and billies boil,
We'll make a camp-fire gleam,
That those below may see and know
We need no more to dream.

* * *

A Sleepless Night.

The night was dark and loud the wild wind roared
Along the desolate and lonely shore;
It lashed the rain against the rattling panes,
And shook the trembling door.
I was alone—yet ever on the gale
I heard the fitful crying of a child…
I looked—although I knew no child was there—-
The night was dark and wild.
Perhaps ‘twas raindrops beating on the glass …
A storm-tossed sea-bird, wearying in its flight….
It seemed like trembling fingers, seeking there
A shelter from the night.
And then the latch was lifted stealthily….
I heard a light step on the winding stair…
I crept out, wondering who the child might be—
But there was no one there.
Yet still I heard a fumbling at the latch—
A weary voice amid the tumult weep—
And still the rain fell and the tempest roared …
All night I could not sleep.