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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1931

A. R. D. Fairburn

page 16

A. R. D. Fairburn

New Zealanders interested in our young and struggling literature will be delighted to hear of the recent success achieved by a young Aucklander in England. Rex Fairburn, sometime undergraduate of Auckland University College, has recently published a volume of poems entitled "He Shall Not Rise."

It appears that to achieve literary success in New Zealand one must go to England. Mr. Fairburn, though recognised here as promising (that abomination of all aspiring poets), has met with such success at Home that one feels New Zealand's literature is cursed with conservatism and cynicism. Realising this, he has taken his verse and deliberately thrown it on the overburdened, but discriminating, desks of the English reviewers. Courage is rewarded, and the enthusiavic receptions by public and critics now demand some recognition here. All the poems were written in New Zealand, and some have a distinct local colour. To allow these to pass unnoticed will be a living indictment of our taste and judgment.

Of the poems themselves no more convincing or original contribution has been made to our literature. The thought is virile and arresting, an apt expression of youth; the imagery has a familiarity which enhances the intrinsic beauty, an essential element in a representative literature; the verse forms are in the main orthodox, but the arrangement and rhyming show unbounded originality and freedom. It has been suggested that he has learnt much from A. E. Housman (the master of the moderns), and there are unquestionable echoes of Rupert Brooke in much of his deeper thought.

The last verse of "An Old Woman":—

Her youth like a dim
Cathedral lies
Under the seas
Of her life's long dream,
Yet she hears still
In her heart, sometimes
The far sweet chimes
Of a sunken bell.

A telling example of Housman philosophy is found in the last verse of "Amarantus."

"The lamp may shine in the darkness, it may endure eternally, or cease with death's cold gust.

I know not, care not. Of this alone am I sure—tha; the dust is immortal: I shall not decry the dust."

D. G. E.

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