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Legends of the Maori

The Lament of Te Neke — (A Chief of Te Atiawa)

page 241

The Lament of Te Neke
(A Chief of Te Atiawa)

Behold, far off, the bright evening star
Rises, our guardian in the dark,
A gleam of light across my lonely way.
Belov’d, wert thou the evening star,
Thou would’st not fixed so far from me remain!
Let once again thy spirit wander back
To soothe my slumbers on my restless couch,
And whisper in my dreams sweet words of love.
O, cruel death! to damp that beauteous brow,
With night’s cold softly falling dews:
Rau-ai-ru! Keeper of celestial gates:
There comes to thee a lovely bride,
Borne from me on Death’s swollen tide—
Belov’d! thy wandering spirit now hath passed
By pendent roots of clinging vine
To Spirit Land, where never foot of man
Hath trod, whence none can e’er return—
Path to the gods, which I not yet have seen.
Belov’d; if any of that host of Heaven
Dare ask of thee thy birth and rank,
Say thou art of that great tribe
Who sacred spring from loins of gods!
As stands alone Kapiti, a sea-girt isle,
And Tararua’s solitary range,
So I to-day stand lonely ’midst my grief—
My bird with sacred wings hath flown away,
Far from my ken to Spirit Land.
I would I were a kawau,* resolute,
And so dive into the inmost depths of time,
As to reappear at my beloved’s side
Amidst the throng upon the further shore.
Belov’d! I soon will join thee there!
I come! Await me at the gates! My spirit frets; how slow is time!

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