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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 2 (May 1, 1940.)

New Zealand — Verse

page 43

New Zealand


Ring out the bells—
The trumpets sound
The flaunting flags are high,
The ships of war are in the bay
The war-planes in the sky.
Who shall forget
The living dead—
They who returned from hell,
And left their youth in no-man's-land
Where friend and comrade fell.
Roll out you drums—
Your cry “to arms”
The thud of marching feet,
Shall leave its mem'ry on the quay
Its echo in the street.
Women shall weep
For men again
So brave within their sight—
And old men charge their glasses to
The lads gone out to fight.
The suns will still
Come with the dawns
And go with daylight's wane:
Pray God our dear gay marching youth
Will see our suns again.

* * *


Like scattered notes of music are the gulls that stand
Along the bars the morning tide marked on the sand.
The fingers of the wind pluck soft arpeggios
From the green keys of the stiff dune-grass: sound flows
About the restless sand until the melody
Piped by the treble-throated gulls now moves the sea
To leaping rhythm. Foam cascades a sparkling air
Above the rushing beat of waters, poising there
A moment while the torrents crash in thund'rous chords,
Till the ebb-tide to the hidden play'r pause affords.
And once more the wind resolves into slow harmony
The quiet-falling motif-cadence of the sea.

Written at a Picnic.

Here, where the bracken, frustrate by a fence,
Stays at the edges of the green, cleared land;
Here, in the paddock, where the daisies vie
With foxgloves, and the tussock grasses stand;
Here, where a twisted ngaio casts a shade,
And through the quiet daytime sheep still cry
Over the gully that the creek has made;
Here is the truth that is our country, whence
All that is written is not yet enough.
Here are the rotten limbs of old, dead trees.
Though void of life, still they hold life for flame;
Here bold rocks break the hillside—lichen scales
Cling to their surface, and beneath the bluff
There is a hint of fern, while cattle pass
Along the narrow tracks towards a shed.
We've been too fed on dreams that have their ways
Only in Beauty. Beauty alone won't serve.
For man must live by bread, and living, seek
His labour. Sinew and brain and nerve
Go for its winning.
Here is a land that's strong.
Ready for plough or grain. Not unaware,
Nor dreaming, for the days
Have struck a stubborn note within its song.
There's been too much of rata—kowhai gold—
Not yet sufficient of the solid earth.
Not yet the living story has been told,
The spirit that is here of death and bird
And new beginnings, and the sweat of toil,
The smell of animals, the busy creek,
The hunger and the clamour of the soil.

* * *

Brook Morning.

Sungleam and shadow-play,
All on my waterway,
Trickle and bubble and rush over stone;
White gleam of pebbled sweep;
Gold-glint within the deep,
Song in the heart of you sings to my own.
Whispering stir of reeds,
Wet drops on water-weeds,
Flash of swift shadows where fish dart away;
Brown flats on either hand,
Curve of white-throated strand,
Crystal bird-ripples across the young day.
Waves of the willow-fronds,
White crowds of bamboo wands,
Feather of toi-tois, and leaves russet-red;
Painted trees lean and look,
Into the silver brook.
Laughing and leaping, dew-fleck'd and snow-fed.
Over stones bronze and grey,
Pallid, and jewel-gay,
Surging and stumbling and slipping along;
White in a snowy surge,
Blue-green where shadows merge,
Changing forever, yet singing one song.
Sungleam and shadow-play,
All on my waterway,
Trickle and bubble and rush over stone;
While the smooth pebble's worn;
All through the laughing morn
The song in the heart of you sings to my own.