Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 18. September 20, 1939
N.Z. Verse — The Land and the People
The Land and the People
The latest book of verse from the Caxton Press is, as one may expect, a delight to the eye by reason of the excellent printing and production. "The Land and the People, and Other Poems" is by Charles Brasch, a name new to most readers, no doubt—although two poems by Mr. Branch appeared in the June number of "Art in New Zealand"; which fact may surprise those who know the views held by most of the Caxton school.
This book of verse is interesting, and, at the same time, rather exasperating. Mr. Brasch leads us to expect of him rather more than he seems prepared to give: perhaps it may be more than he is able to give, but I do not think he lacks that ability. However that may be, these poems (for they are, most of them, more than verse) do show definite ability, combined with a nice facility of expression. Mr. Brasch is a thinker, but he does not always let us know Just what he is thinking, which makes him a little difficult to read. The title-poem is. I think, quite the most important. It is in four parts, which appear at irregular intervals through the book, and is not only thoughtful but (what is probably more important) thought-provoking.
In the poems here presented, Mr. Brasch has, for the most part, abandoned rhyme, but he has not made the mistake, so prevalent among contemporary poets, of abandoning rhythm also. In consequence, his work flows easily and without effort, although the sense, at times, is not so accommodating. There is not, in the main, very much music in these poems, although "Walanakarua" and several closely following it are pleasing to the ear. The poet seems rather to use an intense line, with much effect.
"Knowledge ends thus with the traveller's glimpse;
But there imagination wakes
Vivid with an alternative creation
But near-related, complementary.
Later attainable; and flashing
Unknown visions of the known.
Rivals that time's tenderness shall reconcile."
"To Joy Scovell" is an exquisite, almost lyrical poem; and "Envoy's Report" is vivid and alive, with a strange and vibrant haunting quality that makes the poem of unusual and outstanding merit in a book of poems which, although promising, are not outstanding.—a.