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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)

New Zealand Verse

page 37

New Zealand Verse

The Cattle.

In trampled pens the cattle stood
Beneath the day-forsaking skies;
Where sunset flowed in coloured flood,
The cattle voiced their captive cries,
Huddled where late, in sister mood,
Their kin had stared with sombre eyes.
A bovine rumour on the wind—
Sun-sweetened hay and meadow grass,
The drinking pools so cool to find,
Where waters spring as clear as glass;
Dream acres had they left behind,
But desolation, too, must pass.
The hour ran out, the dusk burned red,
With brighter light the road was dyed,
Yet hung each horned, pathetic head
With fear too manifest to hide.
“Were you as we,” their sorrow said,
“You, too, would stand as heavy-eyed.”
A year ago, as told by dreams,
I heard a white-haired prophet claim
That Heaven is rife with fields and streams,
And cattle there have each a name,
With mangers that are lit by gleams
From braziers with a holy flame.

* * *


A waste of waters drowns the fertile valley.
From hill to hill the flooded shallows creep
Unstemmed, relentless. Heaven's gates have opened,
And broken are the fountains of the deep.
Yet not as winds and waves destroy—with tumult,
With clash of arms and furious battle-cry.
These waters that prevail possess the pastures
With but a choking sob, a stifled sigh.
Ah, night falls sinister on such a silence!
The wan moon tears her tattered veil of jet,
And ‘neath the glassy tide, swoons to discover,
Tangled with young drowned wheat, her image set.
And stark amid the dabble of dark waters,
Trees, half-submerged, stand sentinel; and fling
Dumb arms to Heaven above death's floating harvest
Of garnered bird, and beast, and creeping thing.
Oh, Lord: Assuage Thy waters and abate them;
And respite to Thy stricken children grant.
Set in the clouds the Sign that Thou didst promise;
Thy bow, the everlasting Covenant.

* * *

Silver Poplar.

See her standing in the rain
At the corner of the lane;
See her waiting dreamily,
Lonely, lovely poplar tree.
As her dripping branches stir
All the shining leaves of her
Move with tender flutterings,
Like the beat of prisoned wings.
Upraised arms gleam white and fair
Through her cloudy silver hair,
Winds whose songs are hushed and sweet
Kneel to kiss her little feet,
And with wistful, seeking lips
Stand tip-toes to reach the tips
Of her drenched cold fingers. She
Does not heed them, does not see;
Dreaming in the quiet rain,
At the corner of the lane.


I watched a creepy, crawly thing,
In ugly raiment clad,
Spin for itself a tomb, and sing
As if its soul were glad—
Assuming soul it had.
I saw a wingê angel creep,
In robes of rainbow hue,
From out that ugly tomb of sleep
And soar into the blue—
And it was singing, too.
I heard it not with mortal ear;
As if a mortal could!
And yet its song rang loud and clear,
Triumphant “God is good.”—
And then I understood.

* * *


Far inland are the woods I know
Where almond-thickets faintly glow
And wild, wet buds—ah! wild, and white—
Gleam through the shades of gold-green light.
Under the boughs that catch the sun
I sometimes dream that there I run,
Close by the raupo, close by the briar,
Warmed by the flames of the rata-fire.
I break through the barriers, blossomy red,
And the wild-rose dew is upon my head,
And it is something most young and sweet
To feel the brown fern under my feet.
I sometimes wake at the cold pale day
To hear them calling from far away—
The thrush and the tui, they call from afar
In konini-dales where the sweet berries are.

page 38