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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 1 (April 1, 1940)

New Zealand Verse

page 29

New Zealand Verse

The Changing World.

I looked out on a calm, still world,
There were moonbeams in the sky.
They played upon the silent hills
As the moon went riding by.
I looked out on a cold, cold world,
Jack Frost had left his mark,
And glistening icicles hung low
From tree-fern leaf and bark.
I looked out on a white, white world,
There were snowflakes in the air.
As light as fairy thistledown
They floated here and there.
I looked out on a bright, bright world,
There were sunbeams all around.
They chased the little snowflakes off
And danced upon the ground.
I looked out on a wet, wet world,
The rain was pouring down,
The impish raindrops laughed at me
And chased away my frown.
And as I watched this changing world,
Each change its beauty bringing,
I felt that Angels up in Heaven,
Their song of praise were singing.


Black bank against the sky and pungent smell of burning;
The heat and hush of danger drawing near!
And from the undergrowth, wild panic-stricken creatures
Flee blindly, maddened by instinctive fear,
Before the onrush of that blistering inferno
That flies from tree to tree on lightning wings,
Leaving behind, a blackened trail of desolation
Where green quietude once harboured living things.
Proudly those virgin trees stood, arms upstretched to Heaven,
Their gowns in springtime with clematis starred.
Now—prone and pitiful, in shroud of drifting ashes—
Or standing gaunt, despoiled, their beauty marred.
Silenced the brown-owl's hoot from dim and shadowed branches;
The busy hum round wild-bees’ honeyed store.
And sweet, wild, ringing notes of tufted tuis—
By vandal's hands are stilled for evermore.

Where Beauty Passes.

This way went beauty. See, among the grass,
How bright the daisies where her feet have pressed.
The willows bowed their heads to see her pass
And spread their leafy arms to shade her rest.
I know she paused beside this slender stream
Cradled in fern and blue forget-me-not,
For here the dragon-flies are all adream
And hang bemused, their darting flight forgot.
So long she lingered through the forest ways
Each flashing leaf proclaims her presence still;
And then, be sure, she stayed a while to praise
The manuka's white mantle on the hill.
Here moss and fern spread carpets for her feet,
And here, in stately ranks, the nikaus stand
To line the way, with crowns up-raised to greet
The ageless queen of this primeval land.
But hush, tread softly! See, beside the lake
Where clematis lets down her starry hair,
Beauty lies dreaming. Let no sound awake
Or fright her, for she sleeps so sweetly there.

Claire De Lune.

(From the French of Paul Verlaine).

The pale moon shining through the trees
Illumines every bough,
There, 'neath the leafy canopies
Your voice makes music now
O best-beloved.
Mirrored within the pool's dark glass
A willow's grace doth show
Etched in black lines, where shadows pass
The wind is keening low,
It is the hour of dreams.
The tenderness and glory of the moon
Have made a rapt still loveliness descend
From the blue firmament where soon
Her sweet way she will wend:
It is the hour of love, my heart.


Around the hills of Wellington
Pohutukawas glow
Just as they flaunted flowers of flame
A hundred years ago.
And down beside the dusty wharves
The busy winches roar
Where brown-skinned men beached warcanoes
Upon a lonely shore.
Where once the wild bird only held
Dominion upon high
An aeroplane with flashing wings
Sweeps silver through the sky.
The little streets wind up the hills
Where forest lands abode,
And English oaks and dusky pines
Give shade upon the road.
And in the city down below
The storied buildings grand
Rise arrogantly where of old
The whares used to stand.
But still with crimson flowers ablaze,
And drenched with wind-blown spray
Pohutukawas proudly stand
Beside the winding way.