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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 11 (February 1, 1935)

The Model

The Model.

I watched an artist building
A galleon of old—
Stern windows rich with gilding
Bluff bows and bilges bold.
With rail and quarter rounded
And every grating there,
As though o'er seas unbounded,
She sailed to roadsteads fair.

Maybe she was a Spaniard—
I watched but did not ask
As he shaped gun and lanyard
Capstan and watercask.
Or else a Dutchman splendid
With carvings on her stern,
Whose high, brass lanterns blended
With heavenly lights that burn.

Maybe they were French riggers
Who set those spars and sails
And made the metal figures
On her belaying rails;
But when I saw the sweetness
Of waterline and sheer
Bespeaking strength and fleetness
And ease to con and steer,

I knew that English builders
Had shaped a ship like this,
Not for doubloons or guilders
Or other selfishness.
This ship was planned and fashioned
For love of ships, by men
Whose bold hearts were impassioned
With hope to sail again.

Where English ships had travelled
By chartless seas and far—
Where men Night's net unravelled
To find new track and star…
Low bows and high decks slanting
Up to her blazoned stern…
I heard her seamen chanting
Sea-songs our landsmen learn.

Because their glory lingers
Who sailed to conquer Spain,
I watched the clever fingers
Fit door and window pane.
Each mast was like a steeple
Of cordage stiff and high…
I seemed to see her people,
All active, running by,

To set the great sails trimly
To hold the winds that blew
Out of the Old World grimly
To bear them to the New.
Dead-eye and rudder pintle
And painted ports were made
By those quick hands, so gentle
And sure of shape and shade.

By what deep urge compelling
Do artists do these things?
Shaping the strong lines, swelling,
Of galleons old that kings
Once sailed in to the thunder
Of guns from ship and shore,
To fill the world with wonder
From Tiber to the Nore.

The impulse is deep-bedded,
A legacy that comes
From days when men bare-headed
Fought to the roll of drums,
On ships all rich with gilding
With bows and bulwarks bold…
I've seen an artist building
A galleon of old.