The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 3 (July 1, 1933)
New Zealand Verse
New Zealand Verse
I'm just a country bumpkin, down among my spuds and pumpkins,
But I sometimes sit a-scribbling with my pen.
For I'd like to write a ditty, all about the wicked city,
And the way it snares and ruins honest men.
But my thoughts keep coming wrong, sir,
For I'm feeling pretty strong, sir,
That the city's not as bad as people say;
For well do I remember,
I was up there one September,
And I really rather thought I'd like to stay.
And the thought comes with persistence,
In a former gay existence,
Oh, I must have been a “townie” born and bred.
As I'm hoeing out the weeds,
And I'm raking in the seeds,
How I wish that I might drive a car instead!
For the whirr of a machine,
And the odour of benzine,
Seem to get into my head and make me sing;
And rebellious thoughts come thronging,
And my heart is filled with longing,
And I seem to feel the city's just the thing.
Yes, I love the avid city,
With its girls so pert and pretty,
And the glitter and the glamour and the glare;
And the crowds so mixed and merry,
And the rush for tram and ferry,
And the light and life and laughter everywhere.
Oh, I know the country's best,
For our health and all the rest,
And on our cheeks it puts a ruddy glow,
But the city seems to beckon,
And some morning soon, I reckon,
I'll simply have to pack my swag and go!
Yes, I know the city's bad,
And I know it's very sad
The way the country sons desert the sod;
But those cows I can't abide, sir,
Now, I'll lay my pen aside, sir,
So, good-bye, from your respectful
* * *
Coupled with dreams is the ghostly cryi
Of the flying night express,
From a world of sleep to a stirring morn,
From the shadowed hills to the plains of corn,
Puffing and panting in dire distress—
Goes the passenger night express.
And who can tell of its human freight,
What issues there are at stake;
Of the trouble stored in a restless mind,
Of the thrilled expectancy one would find,
Flying the dark to a world awake—
On the passenger night express?
I only know when the iron horse
Of the gleaming rails goes through,
That my dreams are stirred with the vague unrest
Of the wild romance of its eager quest,
Know that I long to be travelling too—
With the passenger night express.
* * *
Beneath the red pohutukawa's bough
The sand lies sheltered from the noon-day sun;
So cool and softly grey, with ripples, even now
As chaste as when the early tide
Had newly gone; and wavelets, one by one
Sigh faintly, as they fall aside
To creep, unheeded, to the sea again.
O'er the wet sand, through the flying spray,
Which, rainbow-tinted, hangs upon the sun,
Two figures race; their laughter drowns the day
In noisy merriment, while grey sand falls
In careless showers ‘til dancing feet have won
The precious shade. And Youth, the tireless—care-free—calls
A gay defiance to this quiet and dreaming place.
Where straggling fences on some lonely hill,
The air, their fragrance with pure beauty fill,
By summer's breezes are their petals fanned,
The sweet wild roses of our Maoriland.
Around a vacant, sad, forgotten cot,
The only glimpse of beauty on the spot,
Where rafters crumble, foundations all decay,
The fragrance of the roses come to stay.
Upon a sad white fence down near the deep
Where one waits, sleeping their last tranquil sleep,
Tossed by Pacific's spray and golden sand,
Grow the wild roses of our Maoriland.
* * *
I looked for joy in simple things,
And in the crystal morning light,
I glimpsed the brilliant glowing wings
Of butterflies in happy flight.
I trod upon the dewy grass
That reached unto my dress's hem,
And bowed to earth to let me pass,
To spring again on slender stem.
On nearby hedge a bright array
Of webs that humble spiders spun,
All splashed with dew of early day,
Gleamed multi-coloured in the sun.
Bird voices filled the limpid air,
Fresh perfumes floated lazily,
My heart rejoiced that I should share
Such deep and fragrant ecstasy.
Below me in green wooded glen
There flowed a swift and shining stream,
That bubbled forth from shaded fen,
And captured day's caressing gleam.
Shy birds came hopping near my feet,
Fair bluebells nodded merrily,
And when I touched my pansies sweet,
Their lovely faces smiled on me.
The gentle wind's soft whispering
I heard, and pleasant hum of bees,
While sun and shadow flickering,
Threw checkered shadows ‘neath the trees.
Upon my listening ear there fell
The soothing sound of ocean waves,
White seagulls wheeled above their swell,
Or cried about dark mystic caves.
I dreamed, and when I waked, the night
Had fallen and bade work to cease;
I looked above and there the light
Of silent stars told me of peace.
I looked for joy and lo! I found
That life gave joy abundantly,
Poured forth from simple things around,
A joy that will not pass from me.
* * *
In places of charm and enchantment,
Drawn thither in fond beauty's quest,
‘Neath blue skies on foam-flecking waters
I loitered at pleasure's behest.
But a place in the South ever called me,
Where ferns wave and blithe tuis sing;
Where bellbirds with musical chiming,
Sweetest cadence to dawn always bring.
Oh, gay throngs are poor balm for yearning,
When hearts are reproached by love's pang;
Depression was soon turned to gladness
For me as my heart gaily sang:
To my Love in the South I'm returning,
With spirits as light as sea foam;
Dear land of my childhood, I love there—
New Zealand—my birthplace—my home.
* * *
He tells me that he loves me, so he does,
With his eyes and ears and smile and waggin' tail.
And I tell him it is true—
That I love him dearly too,
And our love is of the stuff that doesn't fail.
Then we shake a paw upon it and I pat him on the head,
And he leans up close against me and softly licks me arm—
Oh, the tender warm caressin'!
For sure it is his blessin'
To keep me from the evil that is harm!
A friend's a mighty comfort to be sure,
When your luck is gone and you are down and out!
When the blows of Fate they fall,
And your back's against the wall,
His faith can brace you for another clout.
Though I haven't got two coppers to jingle in me vest,
And am tattered at the elbow and ragged at the knee,
We'll face the world together,
In fair or stormy weather,
And whatever's there we'll meet it—him and me.