The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949
He Measure of All Things
The model railway, big as a garden,
Running by paths, streams, leafy trees,
And electric smoke that offends no-one,
So that the journeys and movements and tickets
And whistles and signals—red above green—
Are real, so real (more real than the dull,
Gritty, inhibited railways we know),
And the Dance of the Flutes always there in the background!
All the same, I think I can remember
The downhill stretch from Athenree
When I'd stand outside on the end carriage
Watching the rails shoot out behind
And the sides of the cutting go higher and higher;
And I think I would say to myself just then,
"All railways are good, if you treat them right,"
And I think I still agree.
Time to Go Home
The willow waves;
The white sand is cold now;
The day is over.
No weeping willow—
These the wistful willows are
That wave as
The sea-breeze dies away.
The children cry out;
Their voices have that long echo
As the sun goes.
The green weed lies
And the boats are coming back home,
Up-harbour on the tide,
With the soft-dying sea-breeze.
If you wait long enough
Some day will be
Like summer by the beach—
The summer sun,
The gay children watching, playing,
Under their mother's eye.
The wicked witch of Northcote
Has flowers and trees to hide her gate—
Small, climbing roses
And the mad geranium.
She only knows one human tongue,
And used it till a while ago
In speaking to an aged man
Who lived across the road.
Now he's dead and there's no-one worthy.
She lives with her dog Woofy and the cats,
Geraniums growing wild,
Nasturtiums in the field,
Willows are poking up out of the gutters,
The chimney black and tall and crooked,
The paint fallen from the roof,
The glass from all the windows:
I wouldn't walk up that crooked path
With roses hanging from the trees
For all the wild and sweet geraniums
Ever witches grew!
When the painter takes his brush,
When the heart its colours knows
And then the sounds begin to weave
The harmonies of their intent,
The man puts by his sorry work,
The woman lays her cares aside;
In the dance of sexual harmony
They speak the contented words:
"Oh whispering-grass beneath the orange trees,
You shiver there in the shrill, hot wind;
It shakes you into green shivering-grass,
Whispering of the white flecks on your stems.
You rise into the golden glowing orange;
You pet the crimson poppy with your growth;
The black-brown twigs of the orange tree
Crumble away as the sap is turned to juice.
Oh whispering shivering-grass in the clover bed,
You comfort the creeping, little columbine:
All the life beneath the tree watches you!"
For Those Especially Bewildered
Those painted poppies on the wall
And wilting tulips in theatre tubs,
The 'Hands off!' of the society troll
And the intimate sweetness of her smile,
The foolish compassion of the theatre dame
Who wished compassion for any girl
Who had come to grief, the packed flowers
Stacked high in the coloured shops for sale
And the careful vandalism of a child
Who, like my friend, cried 'Cissy!' for gazing at the flowers;
The fingering-over of the books in the stall
And their ever-smoother, brighter, jackets,
The ruthlessness behind the smile
Of the prize-winner taking her toll
Of human love and human greed
And of herself, and even the small
Bewildered grief of those bereaved,
In the forest, where the wild flowers grow tall
In the fallow grass, and the animals gay
And hidden run and cry and call
And the stately river flows by supplejack and pale clematis:
Is this just the city? or are even all
The corners of the earth affected too?
Do our country cousins smile?
Smile at the sunset? laugh at the storm?
I would not expect an answer, for you tell
That the best would never hear the question
And the worst have never known the fall,
And the rest of us make up this majority,
Who thus cannot ask of ourselves and still expect an answer.
P. S. Wilson