Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11., No. 9. 28th July 1948
The influence of the New Zealand highlands is evidently deeply felt by James K. Baxter, as seen in a selection of titles—"The Thistle," "O, Wind Blowing," "Sun and the Green Sap," "Haast Pass," "Snowfall." "Snow." But the plains and the sea also play their part.
In "Letter to Noel Ginn II," Baxter writes—
An 8-hour day is not conducive to
The exercise of one's imagination.
So I have found alas that my true station
Is still among the academic crew
Whom I despised for undue cerebration
That leads to withering of the heart and thew.
No doubt I'll find a niche where I can grumble
About the clique that pay me for my pen.
And drink with other intellectual men,
And gain some slight prestige, however humble,
With a little bitter poem now and then.
Baxter's poetry seems to be changing. To those who are aware of his previous occupation, it would be quite justifiable to attribute some of the poems in this volume to the obligatory feeling Baxter has "To write a little bitter poem now and then." It may well be possible that Baxter's rugged virility is in danger of being clouded by this affected intellectualism. "Envoi," if the work of an older poet, could be interpreted as a sign of decadence, and some titles fall far below the high standard of the rest of the work.
But these are minor blemishes, in some measure acting as a foil' to the earnestness and undoubted sincerity of the majority of the poems.