The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 11 (February 1, 1937)
New Zealand Versa
New Zealand Versa
A fragile world enow,
Swirling festooned, and colours dip,
Glint on the eye and sharpen to a vow,
Hurt with intensity and slip
Down shadowy slopes. Filmed figures wind their train
Obscurely till the brain
Jerks and asserts the intermittent day,
Holding life flat, poised, hard-lined in its sway.
* * *
Oh, walk not here with careless feet,
Nor pass these stones with blinded eyes
Whose names like echoes thin and sweet
Of bugle calls at morning rise.
Strange glories and strange memories
Are yet within these old paths bound,
Where sea-winds blow among the trees,
And every step is holy ground.
* * *
It is not enough to mark that Spring is here
With gown of leaf green shadow and young blossom in her hair,
To glimpse the starry measures she dances with the winds
And hear the flute-notes of her laughter on the quiet air.
To know the heart of Spring one must have lain close-pressed
Against the cold, sweet earth and watched the countless creeping things
That have their life within the grasses; felt the pangs
Of birth in bud and calyx; caught the gleam of restless wings;
Been folded in the arms of lonely hills before
A rain-grey dawn; sought cool tree-haunts where little rivers sing.
Only then, for one enchanted rainbow hour,
Is it given man to know the inmost heart of Spring.
There'll be a wind from olden hills,
And in the valleys, sleeping,
Freckled foxgloves, pink and white,
And light and shadow creeping
Through tawny grass and bracken brown,
And night will come down slowly,
With crescent moon in darkling sky,
The silence will be holy.
The tall dark trees will move and sigh,
The hills will breath more deeply,
And draw the clouds more closely round
Their rugged shoulders shapely.
A rimu weeps above a pool
That laves its feet, reflecting
Its shadowy grace among the stars.
Night's hands reach out, protecting
The growing things, the little things.
She brings them sleep and healing—
The mystic hours that gird the soul
Against the day that's stealing
In from the sea. Oh, pitiful
The hands of night, and holy.
The little winds cry home my heart.
Night yields hér slowly, slowly…‥
* * *
Outside my window, through the grime
Of city smokes that curl and climb,
There is a shining reed of light
As graceful as a bird in flight;
There is a sudden flash of gold
Like fading tints on dead leaf-mould;
Or glimmer of green athwart the sky
As a gipsy breeze goes gaily by …
O! shining poplar tree so tall
That grows outside my office wall,
I thank you for the magic way
Your beauty charms my cares away.
Day brings me no more songs….
Yet all around the birds' glad notes are winging
And sunlight glows on summer's robe of flowers;
But, sad and mute, through echoing, halls I wander,
Threading alone the archways of the hours.
Night brings me no more dreams….
Yet o'er the sky's clear depths the moon is gliding
And starlight glistens on the shimmering sea;
But I in darkness keep my lonely virgil,
And Sleep's bright visions come no more to me.
Life brings me no more joy….
Dewdrops and sunrise and the stir of flowers,
Rustle of grass and whispering hiss of rain….
All these I fled, to seek more heavenly beauty;
And yet—to-night—I know not what I gain.
* * *
When I am gone, give me no pagan rite:
I would not have you cut one single bloom
To die with me upon my grave,
To lose its snowy beauty overnight
And suffer by my death its own swift doom
Like some barbarian's beloved slave.
Make me a garden o'er my head, wind-fanned,
Sea-girt, and watered by the summer rains;
And in its heart, my wish conceives
Some homely sapling from my native land,
That this poor dust may stir within his veins
vAnd speak once more amid his whisp'ring leaves.