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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

New Zealnd Erse

page 69

New Zealnd Erse

The Tuatara.

On barren islets off the coast,
Sun-warmed and torpid, tarries one Whose ancient day is nearly done—
Reptilian, prehistoric ghost.
Gnarled tuatara, basking there,
Behind your jewelled amber eyes
Lie what prodigious memories
Of ancient days, lived other where?
In bygone ages did you see
Grotesque and monstrous creatures climb—
All dripping from primordial slime—
To wax, and wane, and cease to be?
And mark a lemur-thing that ran
On hind-legs-clambered in the trees,
And used its clever hands to seize
On sticks to fight its fellow-man?
And did you make your last lone stand
Here on a rocky mountain-side?
And watch the giant moa stride
In flocks across the empty land?
Alas! You with the earth grew old.
Fixed prey to changing enemies, A million marching centuries
Have won the day. Your tale is told.
And now you sprawl in sun-warmed pools
With pulsing throat and lidless eyes;
And flick your tongue to capture flies,
Ignoring all this world of fools.
Ousted and unregarded, while
New-fangled man takes up the tale,

Sphinx-like you brood beyond the pale;
Inviolate and immobile.

* * *

The Poet.

Now, with the evening at its brink,
I, of my fellow men,
Into the sunset's golden ink,
Dip this familiar pen,
To tell of towers in silhouette,
Of bronzed and burnished trees,
That this bright hour may linger yet
With day's philosophies.
There is no stir upon the lake,
Upon the sea no stain,
No lone bird in the reeds awake
To cry of certain rain.
No wind to creak the graven mill,
Frigid of sail and calm;
No hood of cloud above the hill,
No lightning to alarm …
Now, with the fated golden pen,
Now, while the ink is new,
I shall bestow on other men
This eve of bronze and blue;
This hour of fact and phantasy;
This cup of poet's wine,
That one day they may joy with me
And know such peace as mine.

* * *


Tempered with subtler steel
Than man can mould,
The arch of years casts out its span
The earth to hold.
Alas! Its cunning light
Draws on my soul,
And with its naked blade
It takes its toll.
Ah! Call it back—
That blinded soul—to see
The naked earth again In infancy;
The smiling rose new-born
Beside the thorn;
The spring that parts its mossy lips In scorn,
Or pours its beauty
On a world forlorn:
These things I call my soul
Again to see,
A world created for our ecstasy.

* * *

Vagabond Song.

I'm going west beyond the hills,
Beyond the dusty town,
To where the flying crests of foam
Thunder the breakers down
On shining wet-washed shores whosl light
Gives back the flash of wings
Of snowy-breasted gulls that wheel
In sunlit-circled rings.
I'm going west beyond the town
To where the sunset lies
Upon the shaggy heads of hills
In soft and splendid dyes.
I'm going where there's not a road To sting the harassed feet,
But only little straggling paths Where grass and cliff gorse meet.
I'm going west beyond the hills,
Wherever I can find,
Instead of dusty, noisy streets,
Country that's green and kind.
I'm going where there's only wind
And sky and hill and sea,
To where the world holds joy again
For vagabonds like me.

* * *


“This was bush once,” they said. “There were kauris here ….”
And suddenly I saw a monarch of the bush
In all its noble grandeur thrusting high Into infinities of light,
While the dwarfed rimus far below
trailed long green fingers
Through virgin veils of clematis;
Saw century on century the patient
climbing into etheric isolation
Where the sun clanged like a barbaric golden gong
On limbs imperturbable in their strength
To the savage strength of the onslaught;
Felt the mighty roots that supported like shoulders
The massive torso of the tree
Hungrily sucking the vitality hidden in
the darkness of the life-teeming soil,
Pulsing it up exultantly to the huge
limbs, the towering greatness,
Up, up into etheric isolation.
My heart cried out as I saw the monarch of the bush
In all its noble grandeur thrusting high
Into infinities of light,
Then saw it fall before a row of ugly
little shops with roofs of corrugated iron.
“This was bush once,” they said. “There: were kauris here.”
And spat upon earth whose richness had once nourished
The Majesty of a kauri.

page 70