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Ursula Bethell Collected Poems 1950




                                         COLLECTED POEMS


                                               URSULA BETHELL




                                      The Caxton Press , Christchurch













Gale SSW

Ruth H.T.











Water colour










































Spring Storm


The Long Harbour



Drive to North Canterbury

Forest Sleep

Levavi Oculos




Autumn Roses

Showers of Leaves

By Burke’s Pass

Autumn Afternoon




Warning of Winter

Weathered Rocks

May Night






Rainy Morning

Morning Walk

Spring Snow and Tui


Out On A Spring Morning

Spring On The Plain

Southerly Sunday

Grey Day


Summer Afternoon



Autumn On The Plain

Nor’-West Evening, Winter

After Dark

At The Lighting Of The Lamps

Cloudy Night

Twinkled to Sleep

Night Rain

The Crucifix



The Small Hours

Waiting For Dawn

Winter Night

6th July, 1930

Night Of July

Midwinter Dawn

23rd July, 1930

9th July,1932

Dark Morning

Lever de Rideau

October Morning

Spring South-Wester

Summer Daybreak

Nor’-West Night

Autumn Dawn





14th August, 1930

In a Hospital

Evening Walk In Winter

Looking Down On Mesopotamia

Kaikoura. Winter, 1941




October, 1935

November, 1936

November, 1937

For November, 1938

November, 1939

Spring, 1940





MARY URSULA BETHELL. Born in England, 6th October, 1874; died in Christchurch, New Zealand, 15th January, 1945.

Most of these poems have appeared before in three volumes – From a Garden in the Antipodes (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929), Time and Place (The Caxton Press, 1936), and Day and Night (The Caxton Press, 1939). These are here reprinted without alteration, in their original groups, and under those titles.

The poems in the earliest volume were for the most part written without thought of publication. They ‘bubbled up’, to use the author’s own description, as she worked in her garden on the Cashmere Hills in Christchurch, and were afterwards written down; and many were enclosed in letters to a friend in England. By this friend in England and by others in New Zealand they were warmly approved; and as the quiet of the hillside garden continued to be ‘vibrant with words’ in time a considerable number accumulated. Ultimately a selection was sent to England to Mr. Arthur Mayhew, C.M.G., the brother of the original correspondent (Ruth of the poems, Lady Head), and by him submitted to Mr. Frank Sidgwick, who agreed gladly to publication by his firm. For private and personal reasons which seemed to her sufficient Miss Bethell insisted on the use of a pseudonym, and decided to keep to the one that she had already used for the twelve poems which had appeared in two Australian periodicals – Evelyn Hayes. Hayes was chosen in pleasant memory of a great-great-grandfather, Sir Henry Hayes of Cork, whose character and career had always interested and amused her; and Evelyn, she felt, provided a further cloak in the ambiguity of its gender. Poems which appeared later in local journals were signed simply E.H. Time and Place bore the indication ‘by the Author of “From a Garden in the Antipodes”’. Day and Night that of ‘by the Author of “Time and Place”’. But by this date the authorship was an open secret, and long before her death Miss Bethell had given up her desire to pseudonymity.

The small volume Time and Place was dedicated to the memory of her friend Miss Effie Pollen (the ‘Raven’ of the Garden poems), who had lived with her for many years, and whose death after a brief illness, in November 1934, was a severe and bitter shock.

 The title is a reminiscence of Browning; and the poems celebrate times, places, thoughts and feelings experienced and shared with ‘the loved ones’.

Day and Night covers similar ground but without the particular poignant reference. Many of the poems, written between 1924 and 1934, are a continued attempt to express in living words the New Zealand, and especially the Canterbury, landscape, and what for the author lay at the heart of it, its implications in geological and in temporal history, in time and in eternity. This, from the moment that she was persuaded of possessing some poetic gift, was I think her main purpose and ambition in writing.

The poems hitherto unpublished are in three small groups. The five in the first group cover the whole period of the author’s writing life, some having been begun early, some late, and most of them completed in the last year.

The Six Memorials were written in the six years from 1935 to 1940 for the succeeding anniversaries of Miss Pollen’s death. They speak for themselves.

The poems grouped under the heading By the River Ashley represent a volume long projected but undertaken too late and never finished. It was to have illustrated and commemorated the author’s childhood in Rangiora by vivid recollections from that time mingled with and glossed by experiences in a later and wider life. The volume was intended to be dedicated to the author’s brother and sister.


Helen  M. Simpson



[_ _]

From A Garden in the Antipodes

                                                   (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929)





I have told you, Ruth, in plain words
The pleasures of my occupation
In the rhythms of the stout spade,
The lawn-mower and the constant hoe.
p.   But when I listen sometimes to these persistent winds
p.   Moaning remotely among the resonant bluegums,
p.   Tossing their dark boughs towards this sheer sky –

       I would that it had been given me
p.       To be the maker of a small melody
p.       Fit to be chanted by one of Eve’s daughters
p.       Throwing her first seed into a rough furrow
p.       Or resting in the shadow of a sycamore
p.       Playing upon an uncouth instrument.



When you wrote your letter it was April,
And you were glad that it was spring weather,
And that the sun shone out in turn with showers of rain.

I write in waning May and it is autumn,
And I am glad that my chrysanthemums
Are tied up fast to strong posts,
So that the south winds cannot beat them down.
I am glad that they are tawny coloured,
And fiery in the low west evening light.
And I am glad that one bush warbler
Still sings in the honey-scented wattle . . . 

But oh, we have remembering hearts,
And we say ‘How green it was in such and such an April,’
And, ‘Such and such an autumn was very golden,’
And, ‘Everything is for a very short time.’



When I am very earnestly digging
I lift my head sometimes, and look at the mountains,
And muse upon them, muscles relaxing.

I think how freely the wild grasses flower there,
How grandly the storm-shaped trees are massed in their gorges,
And the rain-worn rocks strewn in magnificent heaps.

Pioneer plants on those uplands find their own footing;
No vigorous growth, there, is an evil weed:
All weathers are salutary.

It is only a little while since this hillside
Lay untrammelled likewise,
Unceasingly swept by transmarine winds.

In a very little while, it may be,
When our impulsive limbs and our superior skulls
Have to the soil restored several ounces of fertiliser,

The Mother of all will take charge again,
And soon wipe away with her elements
Our small fond human enclosures.    


Note [1]




                      Gale SSW

At midnight a fierce storm from the South Pole assails us;
Wooden house quivers, chimneys roar, windows rattle,
Hailstones clatter on glass panes and iron roof,
Deep in our warm beds we lie awake shuddering.

Little Omi-Kin-Kan, how are you faring out there in the dark?
Do not lose heart. Hold on till daylight.
Then will I come with watering-can and a piece of canvas,
To unbind the icicles, and shield you from the impetuous sun.


                    Ruth H.T.

‘Ruth’ is my very fine new rose-tree.

‘Compact in growth’ is she, and ‘fairly vigorous’;
Her leaves so ‘dark and shiny, will not mildew.’
‘Erect’ she carries ‘large round blooms of copper-carmine.’
‘Continuous,’ these blooms, and ‘sweetly scented.’

Around her base spring many-coloured tulips;
Beside her leans an orange crimson-spotted lily;
Beneath her smiles a small bright apricot-hued viola.

– So to my faith, and for your fancy. But the facts are:
Two bare thorny twigs with a pink label;
Stuck in the earth around them several white pegs!



‘Now is the time for planting shrubs.’
Shall I plant shrubs? ‘Shrubs’ is an ugly word!
When one says shrubs, I think of suburbs,
Damp villas, desert isles, detective stories.

(’Bank’ is an ugly word – and yet one said
‘I know a bank where the wild thyme grows.’)

Come, let me read this catalogue of shrubs,
And choose out those with lovely-sounding names.
[_          Adenandra uniflora, Aloysia Citriodora,_
_          Iochroma Tubulosa, Podalyria Grandiflora,_
_          Melaleuca, Santolina, Lasiandra,_
_          Cantua, Cassia, Felecia, Luculia,_
_          Daphne_]  . . . 
p.          Shrubs. I am planting shrubs.



I have a little Raven
Who brings me my dinner;
Her tresses are raven,
May she never grow thinner,
She brings me my dinner –
But not by a brook.

She feeds me, she scolds me,
She scolds me, she feeds me,
I’m a hungry old sinner,
She brings me my dinner,
She cooks it in the kitchen
Beside a cookery book!



I have planted lilies, but will they all grow well with me?
Will they like the glitter of this north-looking hillside?
Will they like the rude winds, the stir, the quick changes?
Would they not have shadowy stillnesses, and peace?

[Lilium Chalcedonicum, Calla Aethiopica,
Lilium auratum, candidum, the martagon,
Lilium speciosum, pardalinum, umbellatum,
Amaryllis, convalleria, nerine.]

All these lovely lilies, I wish that they would grow with me:
No other flowers have the texture of the lilies,
The heart-piercing fragrance, the newly alighted angel’s
Lineal poise, and purity, and peace –

(We wait their pleasure. Yet if they grow not
Need only take patience a little while longer;
For these are the flowers we look to find blooming
In the meadows and lanes that lie beyond Jordan –
All kinds of lilies in the lanes that lead gently,
Very gently, by degrees, in the shade of green trees,
To the foothills and fields of Paradise.)



My garage is a structure of excessive plainness,
It springs from a dry bank in the back garden,
It is made of corrugated iron,
And painted all over with brick-red.

But beside it I have planted a green Bay-tree,
– A sweet Bay, an Olive, a Turkey Fig,
– A Fig, an Olive, and a Bay.



I walked about the garden in the evening,
And thought: How Autumn lingers –
Still a few gold chrysanthemums –
Still one late rose –
The old blackbird still has voice.

I walked back down the pathway,
The evening light lay gently on the orchard;
Then I saw a redness on the peach boughs,
And bulb-spears pushing upwards,
And heard the old blackbird whistle -
‘Get ready. Get ready. Get ready.
Quick. Quick. Spring.’

So I cut down the last chrysanthemums,
Pulled up their stakes and piled them in the shed,
At hand to serve me soon for young delphiniums.



Not yet came spring, but the last lap of winter.

Storms. Hail. Rain. Rain. Rain.
Flowers all swept down. Birds silent.

Then much hard toil. Much backache.

Muddy boots. Scratched hands. Deep sleep.

Then one morning a general greenness,
And all the rose-bushes broken into leaf . . .  



More rain has fallen this winter
Than in the winters of twenty-one years past.
The oldest inhabitant does not remember
A winter of so many violent storms.
Soil water-logged. Season retarded. Gardens undone.
p.           (The ever-dismal daily paper!)

But orange Poor Man, who did sulk for nine months,
And threw off all his leaves, and shivered naked,
Is covering his twigs with little bright green knobs.
Montana Rubens, wept for dead not long since,
Has turned herself into a delightful garland.

 Note [2]



I must pass you by, primroses, I must pass you by
When I boast of the fair flowers translated to please our eye, –
The sight of you here under the apple-tree has too sweet a sting.
So like, so unlike the sight of you in an English orchard in spring.

You should not be here, primroses, yet must I have you here
To look up at us with your patient smile in the strange spring

                    of the year –
The strange September spring, whereas in April we should be
In the greenwoods or ever their green veil has lost transparency.

Not current coin, primroses, but a foreign token,
The wonted word out of the past that we never hear spoken, –
Coomb, coppice, spinney, aye, and primrose-wood,
Not understood, dale and meadow, not understood.

In patria, primroses, In patria – do you hear?
La patrie – la patrie c’est le pays du désir –[
__]And everywhere by brake and hedge primroses may be seen
In a grey veil of netted twigs or ever the thicket is green.

If you were nothing more, primroses, than yellow and sweet,
I would ask Time to turn back again that youth and I might meet,
That I might go looking for you in a winding English lane,
And your tender fragrance so fresh in the mist, in the rain.

But there are reasons, primroses, there are secret reasons,
Why we shall not resent the sure process of the seasons,
Our transitory springtime and the quick passing of the years,
But like you with the dew on you smile up through our tears!

Beyond the sprinkled nebulae of the faint starry way,
Like your own starry clusters in the dusk of a clear day,
Far beyond dim avenues of planetary space,
The clue to your sweet look is hid in a celestial place.

And who but you should trim the brink of supernal Beauty’s spring?
Whose souls but yours adorn the groves where immortal choirs sing?
The sight of you here under the apple-tree has so sweet a sting,
– And in patria, primroses, in patria?



A Friend said: ‘You must be dull sometimes
Away up there on that hill.’

But the Horticulturist is deprived of the experience of dullness;
When he is not labouring in physical toil,
Or attempting to alleviate ever-recurring hunger and thirst,
He is working out a succession of vegetables,
Or engaged in agreeable speculations
Relating to the prospects of four or five years hence.
Or, after an unfortunate disappointment,
Seeking the consolations of Philosophy.
He has never accomplished when the sun goes down
More than a small portion of what he had intended to do.

The poet Marvell said, in one of his compositions:
p.         ‘But at my back I always hear
p.         Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.’
Such is, likewise, the experience of the Horticulturist.

Note [3]       



‘Established’ is a good word, much used in garden books,
‘The plant, when established’ . . .
Oh, become established quickly, quickly, garden!
For I am fugitive, I am very fugitive –

Those that come after me will gather these roses,
And watch, as I do now, the white wistaria
Burst, in the sunshine, from its pale green sheath.

Planned. Planted. Established. Then neglected,
Till at last the loiterer by the gate will wonder
At the old, old cottage, the old wooden cottage,
And say ‘One might build here, the view is glorious;
This must have been a pretty garden once.’


[*                                     WATER COLOUR*]

With what peculiar pleasure one beholds
A garden colour-scheme mature correctly.
With what dismay, misled by catalogues,
One sees wrong reds unfold, or the wrong yellows,
Or, worst of all these woes, wrong pinks!

One little group now by grey stones encircled;
Madame Segond Weber on a standard,
Rosy dianthus, tufty Mrs. Sinkins,
Slim white bride gladiolus, catmint,
Without doubt it is a chef d’oeuvre.

This joy is only for the gardener.

The water colour painter of his visions
Wash upon wash at length achieves expression.
But would your aquarellist be kept waiting
One, two, three years for their accomplishment?
Would he be waiting for more years even,
Because he has made one false stroke?

 Note  [4]


I said: I will go into the garden and consider roses;
I will observe the deployment of their petals,
And compare one variety with another.
But I was made to sit down and scrape potatoes.

The morning’s rosebuds passed by unattended,
While I sat bound to monotonous kitchen industry.
Howbeit the heart of my consort was exhilarated,
And for virtuous renunciation I received praise.

The taste of the potatoes was satisfactory
With a sprig of fresh mint, dairy butter, and very young green peas.



Solitary, after all, were the gardener,
But for the accompaniment of words.

In this my matutinal seclusion
Sights, sounds, and scents, all, all agree to please.
Comely the smile of all well-natured subjects,
Goodly the smell of wholesome, up-turned soil.
Lovely above all is this silence –
But the silence is vibrant with words!

        They murmur in the distance like bees,
p.        They whisper in the rustle of the trees,
p.        Then springs one, instant to be heard,
p.        Sings on my shoulder like a bird.


Note [5]






Away with you, plausible rhymes, that come to me unbidden;
I listen for little sounds that are shy and hidden:
Away to the poets’ pastures, all too mettlesome steeds;
Halting, pausing footsteps suffice for my needs.

Only to echo for a moment
The rock-garden’s toy-symphony.

To voice the persistence of a sessile veronica
Or the pearly shadows of a dwarf campanula.

The peeping of a shy saxifrage
Or a stone-pillowed androsace.

But how to perpetuate –
(Stockstill now and awestruck)
By means of any hieroglyph,
The deep, the living azure of the dark blue gentian?



I was intent on a small box of ugly tubers,
Thinking: How merry these will look in autumn,
All in a row along that bright green trellis,
Chestnut, magenta red, old gold, maroon;
Round, flat, frilled faces of Collarette Dahlias,
Holyrood, Rosette, Patrol, –

But I laid down my trowel when I heard the postman’s whistle,
For I knew that he might bring an ocean-mail,
Went up to the gate-box and there found your letter,
And left my dahlias dormant in their nest.

You had been out walking on a Sunday,
And in the Regent’s Park had much admired fine dahlias,
All with their names, in ranks, magnificent.

I could not go on with my gardening
For dreaming of loved and lost London,
And Regent’s Park on summer Saturdays,
And hearing the shrill calls of young boys playing cricket,
And ceaseless distant scream of captive seals.



I name you Mr. Anon, gladiolus seedling,
For a beloved person in a strange and beautiful book.
Your colour is strange and lovely, seedling gladiolus,
Is it prune? or petunia? or peradventure puce?

You shall grow here, Mr Anon, with Niagara and Ali,
With Blue Jay and Schwaben, beside the yellow rose-bed,
With all the new and beautiful, tall, straight gladioluses,
Purple, and nankeen yellow, and heliotrope.



In the night a storm raged, but at sunrise is pacified;
The sky is all clear, the wide plains are verdurous.

Overhead veers a seagull, with hoarse and wild cries; –
Storm-driven seagull, return to your ocean,

See how still now it smiles beside the snow mountains,
How still it sparkles in the unleashed sunshine.

In my bushes chirp busily bright little land birds;
The burrowing worms are happy in the moist soil.

 Note [6]


It grows too fast! I cannot keep pace with it!
While I mow the front lawns, the drying green becomes impossible;
While I weed the east path, from the west path spring dandelions,
What time I sort the borders, the orchard escapes me.

And then the interruptions! the interlopers!
While I clap my hands against the blackbird,
Michael, our cat, is rolling on a seedling;
While I chase Michael, a young rabbit is eyeing the lettuces.

And oh, the orgies, to think of the orgies
When I am not present to preside over this microcosm!



I went down into the trivial city to transact business.

In the tramcar passengers argued without logic;
In the shops too costly wares;
In the Bank too little money;
In the long streets too hot sun.

But at the Post Office they gave me your letter.

In my hill garden at sunset I read it.
A cool wind from the seawaves blew gently
And I saw that little Omi-Kin-Kan had put forth a green shoot.



There is perpetual contention
Between the guardians of the dwelling house and the demesne.

Shall the garden be a paradise,
And the inside of the cottage a shambles?

Or contrariwise, the garden a wilderness,
While we preserve the image of a Dutch interior?

While one cries out ‘The wash-up waits!’
The other murmurs wistfully ‘The lawns! the lawns!’

Tell me now, what is your dream –
The neatest apartment in Knightsbridge?
Or in a deep glade of Eden a booth of green boughs?



My pale blue iris, Caterina, is more than four foot high,
My pale yellow snapdragon is as tall as Caterina,
And my pale blue delphinium is much taller even than they.

What beautiful lines they make! what delicate patterns!
Arrowy jets of limpid hues;  
Lives there still a Japanese artist
Who, with his paint brush, could make us tremble
To see those lines, those tenuous colours
Spring again vibrant as I now see them springing
In their fugacity?




O little Omi-Kin-Kan, your green shoots are so sturdy
You will soon catch up to that slim lemon tree;
Perhaps in seven or eight years you will bear oranges,
And lord-knows-who will boil them into marmalade
While we buy ours ready-made at the Army and Navy Stores!



To-day I woke at half past five and roused
My so reluctant frame, and went to hose
Thirsty hydrangeas and my parched green peas.

Scenting the showers, there came a minute bird 
(Our Michael being occupied elsewhere),
Fluttered and danced among the gracious drops,
Flirted his wings, and frisked his little tail,
Darted bright glances from his nodding head.  

Such are the joys, O metropolitan,
That do acceptably illuminate
My now declining years.




It is positively necessary that your imagination should depict
A portion of my herbaceous border,
Where red and yellow geums and dark blue anchusas
Spring side by side from their abundant green.

It is the scarlet of Crimean battle pictures;
It is the blue of illustrations of Trafalgar;
It is the yellow that in old prints stands for gold;
Sheer vermilion, ultramarine, cadmium.

I have not yet evoked a vision of true loveliness!
I tell you they are the pure colours the Angelic Brother saw in heaven,
And would not leave us ignorant,
Their extreme brightness might well make you weep for joy.


Note [7]



Night and day my garden now is menaced
By a host of abominable enemies.
Some visible, some invisible, or darkly lurking,
Some threatened by prophetic experts, and anticipated;
Mildew, rust, red mite, codlin moth,
Woodlice, thrip, scale, cherry slug,
Pullulating aphis, caterpillars, beetles,
All manner of devils, animal and vegetable.
I assault, I give battle relentlessly till my strength is exhausted.
But is it a forlorn hope? What are my spray and a few chemicals?

A truce! Let me sit down upon this bench,
And lift my eyes beyond the confines of this strife!
How peaceful sleeps the great Pacific to the eastward;
Mile upon mile unbroken rests the open plain;
The purple mountains in mysterious repose;
The dim sky buttressed with a northern arch of cloud;
Faint, in the amethystine radiance of the west,
Eternal snows . . .




Sit down with me awhile beside the heath-corner.

Here have I laboured hour on hour in winter,
Digging thick clay, breaking up clods, and draining,
Carrying away cold mud, bringing up sandy loam,
Bringing these rocks and setting them all in their places,
To be shelter from winds, shade from too burning sun.

See, now, how sweetly all these plants are springing
Green, ever green, and flowering turn by turn.
Delicate heaths, and their fragrant Australian kinsmen,
Shedding, as once unknown in New Holland, strange scents on the air,
And purple and white daboecia – the Irish heather -
Said in the nursery man’s list to be so well suited
For small gardens, for rock gardens, and for graveyards.




Summer has won at last.

Thin lines of snow recede on the high ridges;
The plains are spread out brown under a blue haze;
My pinched zinnias rejoice with the marigolds and verbenas,
They burst out into the colours of a rich eastern carpet;
And Michael sleeps deeply under pinus insignis in cool shade.




Now a wonderful thing has happened –
It is indeed a pleasing phenomenon –
Come, coadjutor, abandon the newspaper,
Come, Michael, come – for shall you not witness,
Though in our emotion you may not participate,
Come, come, this charming occasion to celebrate –
Omi-Kin-Kan is wearing white blossoms – eleven!




Of what complacence every morning now
Our unpretentious garden is the scene!

But yesterday to transports we were moved
By our young Omi-Kin-Kan’s coronal.

Today our infant Turk his leafy sprouts restrains,
And duly offers us one small plump fig.




I have told you much of the flowers in my garden,
And many yet remain of which I have not told,
But when I would tell you of the roses, the roses –
When it comes to the roses, how should I find words?

Yet to them I would consecrate a few faltering sentences
As they grow in their companies by colour and by kind.
Did I but enumerate the tale of chosen roses,
It would surely bring, to the chosen listener, joy.

Their names may be recorded; but what record might be given
Of their symmetry, spell-binding scents, the depth
And gradual brilliance of eye-reposing hue?
No need, no need, when one speaks the word roses, roses,
All their beauty and significance is spoken too.

Roses of Persia, Roses of Damascus;
Roses held up for sale in Piccadilly Circus;
Roses for queens’ bedchambers, and the costermongers’ holiday;
Roses for the tender babe’s first apprehensions;
And for the sage’s mystic contemplations;
Roses for marriage pomps, and the dear maid’s untimely bier;
Roses for fame, pride, joy, romance,
Rapture, remembrance, solace in sore pain;
Symbols of secrecy, truth, love, holiness;
Roses on the green graves of our mortality,
Roses by the green walks of the New Jerusalem –

         So, to all you, my lovely roses, Hail.




My garden has a declivity of one in ten feet.

How easy when I go down in the morning
To visit the vegetable marrows and perpetual spinach!

How steep when at evening, my labours concluded,
I collect all my implements and climb up to my bed!

How favourable for beholding the heavens,
At cockcrow, at sunrise, on a cloud-adorned afternoon,
Or in the still, starry night!


                        GARDEN LION

O Michael, you are at once the enemy
And the chief ornament of our garden,
Scrambling up rose-posts, nibbling at nepeta,
Making your lair where tender plants should flourish,
Or proudly couchant on a sun-warmed stone.

What do you do all night there,
When we seek our soft beds,
And you go off, old roisterer,
Away into the dark?

I think you play at leopards and panthers;
I think you wander on to foreign properties;
But on winter mornings you are a lost orphan
Pitifully wailing underneath our windows;
And in summer, by the open doorway,
You come in pad, pad, lazily to breakfast,
Plumy tail waving, with a fine swagger,
Like a drum-major, or a parish beadle,
Or a rich rajah, or the Grand Mogul.



For you, o gracious urban, are exhibited
All the regalia of Regent Street
And the subtlest schemes of the proudest purlieus
Of Hanover Square.

Ah, but you have not seen the present display of fashion
In our fuchsia-row.

A coat of damask pink and an under-robe of crimson –
A rose-red polonaise and a petunia petticoat –
An ivory-white wimple and a purple habit –
A plum-coloured paletot and scarlet pantaloons –
It is prodigious!

These elegant persons like a little morning sunshine,
But shaded seclusion on sultry afternoons;
They are sheltered therefore by the south wall of our dwelling
And are admired by visitors approaching near our door




You have been my treasure, Rose Pilgrim,
Because of your beautiful name.
But because of your name I would not pamper you,
And I chose you to be planted in a difficult place,
In the pathway of the east wind;
Where at times, too, your roots might become thirsty,
Although I have a thirty foot hose.

You have thriven in spite of these disadvantages.

When your first shoots were battered by the spring storms,
Others pushed forth perseveringly.
You have been my treasure, Pilgrim Rose.

And you are up near the frontier, near the gateway,
So that when I come home, tired, in the evening,
Home to my hill-garden, Rose Pilgrim,
You are the first flower I find there,
You are the very first flower, my Rose Pilgrim,
Pilgrim, my sweet rose.




Yellow daisy, yellow daisy, where have I known you?
Something comes back to me from a far-distant past –
Now I remember you were painted on a mantel-piece,
A Victorian mantel-piece, on a green background,
By one called Ethel, out of Thackeray.




This same evening that I write I witnessed,
Resting on a bench and looking westward,
Sublime splendours.

Beyond the blood-red rose-engarrisoned footpath,
And the dun green flatlands where a few human lights glimmered,
Wild indigo and magenta rainstorms invested
The dark recesses of the mountain ranges.

Clouds overhead burst into cornelian flames,
Transmuting by their strange glow all the garden pigments.
Then was revealed in a dim turquoise interstice,
A very young, remote, and slender, but outshining,
But all predominant moon.

In such an hour the soul finds an appeasement
Not justified by reasons of commonsense.
In that hour she asks of the inscrutable
No more petulant questions.


Note  [8]




I find vegetables fatiguing
And would rather buy them in a shop.
But to the right-minded person the soul of his holding
Is the parallel-rowed, neat, early vegetable plot.

‘I hope you like the colour-pattern of this garden, –
White flowering creepers by the white painted cottage,
By the middle path red roses, purple underlings,
By the east path, yellow, and pale and dark violet,
Here gentlest pink all interspersed with lilac,
And here I design blues, sapphire blues –
p.          Rich and rejoicing, is it not, to the spectator?’

‘Yes, very nice, very nice indeed . . .

How well your beans and cabbages are coming on.’




To you, Lady, at this hour, it may be, watching winter mists
Weave their white webs about the woodlands about your villeggiatura,
I would say that here, to-night, my white rose Silver Moon
Swings her soft cloudy wreaths above the lucent ranks
Of white-robed lilies, Gabriel’s lilies, Christmas lilies,
Whose incense wafted wide mounts up into the welkin,
While our midsummer twilight resolves itself to stars.

But now our calm antipodean vigil
Saluted is by old accustomed strains
And I must go give sixpence to the Army lass
Whose band below there at the cross-roads
Plays conscientiously for tribute –
p.          Nowel – Nowel – Nowel – Nowel –


Note  [9]




Now, Michael, understand me. Be attentive.

The hedgehogs are my very good friends;
So are the lizards, basking in the sun;
Of the bush-warblers I will say nothing –
There you are fanatical and will not listen,
So we must differ (the little birds have wings).
But take heed that we find no tailless lizards:
Know that the rockwalls are reserved for lizards;
And you shall not frighten hedgehogs in the dark;
Confine, Michael, your hostilities to rabbits,
The neighbour’s dog, mice (if any), or a rat.

Or those phantom creatures in the undergrowth,
Creaking, rustling, crawling before daybreak,
Making your eyes burn and your fur tingle,
When our garden turns into a strange jungle,
An old cat-ghostly forest, an immemorial hunting-ground,
So wild, so still, so dangerous -
Before the break of day.




Do you remember, Ruth, in the years of our immaturity,
How you loved to be surrounded by green ornamentations?
You would applaud in my garden now the green environment
That tenderly encompasses its bright blooming denizens.

But for the gem-green setting of this florid jewellery,
Green of jade, emerald, aquamarine, chrysoberyl,
But for the intermediate lawns and plotted plain green spaces,
The soft greensward springing night and day continuously,
Leafage of lemon, myrtle, rosemary, and mimosa,
Cypress-green shades of the high macrocarpa hedges,
And the tall boundary trees’ bronze and viridian boughs –

But for all these I should have, not a pleasaunce, not a garden,
But a heterogeneous botanical display.




‘At least we shall have roses’ laughed my companion,
Looking on the bundles arrived from the nursery,
All with their labels tied up so neatly,
All with their shaven crests and roots so well developed –
‘We shall always have roses here.’

‘At least we shall have roses’ this morning I repeated,
Looking on the summer’s lustrous assemblage,
Beholding the long shoots, as once before in spring-time,
Zestfully preparing for their latter blooming –
‘We shall always have roses, here.’

Others may sail away to the sea-coasts of Bohemia,
Cathay, and Coromandel, Malay, and Patagonia,
Hong Kong, and Halifax, Bombay, and Pernambuco,
Frisco and Singapore, and all the world’s fine harbours –
Wistfully we may watch them loosed from our limitations, –
But for us, at least, roses, here.





When we were children and remote from cities,
My sister, being youngest, walked about the garden
In profound converse with unseen companions.

And some were harbingers of highest bliss,
And some were commonplace and comfortable;
Others obtuse, received with argument,
And some, unamiable, must be scolded:
And some dismissed at once with looks of scorn
And good-bye and good-day to you.

At times I too address my thoughts
To an imaginary visitant.



                      OLD MASTER


Or picture, here, some Conversazione
With flowers, birds, grass, and purple hills beyond,
And gilding sunlight, eloquent chiaroscuro,
And noble forms augustly grouped, and still –
p.          Smiling and still. Initiate and aware.

And thronging on the outskirts, in the foreground,
You, and you, and you, beloved familiars,
Bearing your individual sign and coat of arms,
Surprised and still, smiling and yet expectant –
p.          Found. Known. Secure. And reconciled.




These insect-calling scents call me out also
Into the blazing noon or the short twilight
Or the unblemished sweetnesses of dawn;

Scents that were cloying within closed casements
Borne on the free winds are soul-reviving spices,
Lures to fill up the lungs with youth-renewing airs.

Memorial smells, summons to the unconscious,
Secret balms, restoring innocent gladness,
Calling us back to sincere gladness and joy.

Honeysuckles, thymes, jasmines, pinks, lavenders,
Aromatic trees, fragrant herbs.

So, long ago, I think the Syrian Shepherd
Inhaled the sweet airs of his hills and valleys,
Drew in his breath and sang: Yahweh sustains me:
Lifted his head, and went his way rejoicing.


Note  [10]




A fine day, but one for reasoned abstention.

Tempt me not sturdy mattock, nor you, cunning trowel,
Nor you, keen-edged secateurs!

Perhaps with finger and thumb one might venture?
But no! desist now, you scheming brain-cells,
And rest, hand, primeval tool.

Rather, recumbent on this sunny grass-slope,
My mind shall meditate upon divine husbandry,
And ponder emblems, allegories, parables –
The vine, the scattered seed, the threshing flail.

And think of peace flowing like that mighty river,
And justice, standing fast like those great mountains,
And for similitude of the soft blue above me
Pitifulness. Tender mercy.




When Michael plays on a bibibid’ patch,
And a crestfallen figure of fun
Approaches our portals furtively,
All hands muster and run
As if to a grass-fire, incontinently,
Down tools, hurry and run –
Seize him before his endeavours
To gloss the disaster have begun.
Though he bite and claw, half in fury
And half in gratified fun,
We most gently and delicately
The embedded burrs one by one
Disengage from his opulent vesture
Till the morning hours have run.

All my work antedated!
All our duties undone!
Because great Michael rolled heedlessly
On a bidibidi patch in the sun!

Ah, Michael, year by year the same catastrophe;
Yearly these old incorrigible capers;
Yearly must we undo the work of atavistic vagrancy;
Because Dame Nature has withheld from you, old blunderer
(But not from us, the bludgeoned and belaboured!),
The deep incisive doctrines of experience.




Autumn, I think, now.

Rose hues assume a deeper intensity.

Little birds flying in from far in the wild bush
Pursue insects boldly even into our parlours.

The play of the winds is less turbulent:
They scatter gently forspent petallage
And a scent of ripe seeds is borne on their soft gusts.

To-day I do not perceive the outcry of young folk;
Perhaps they are helping to get in some harvest,
Or far-afield for important ball-games.

Only old men pause by the sunny roadside
Noticing the same sights that I have noticed
And listening to the same quietness.

We do not regret that we are of ripe years;
We do not complain of grey hairs and infirmities;
We are drowsy and very ready to fall into deep sleep.




While others slept I rose and looked upon the garden,
Lying so still there in the rare light of the soon-to-be-setting moon.

The soft, sharp shadows marked a familiar pattern,
But not a leaf stirred, not a blade of grass quivered,
The trees seemed petrified, and the hedges cut out of black glass.

So still it lay, it suffered an enchantment.

It was the dimly mirrored image of a grove laid up in heaven,
Or the calm mirage of a long-since-lost oasis,
Or the unflickering dream of a serene midnight
Dreamt by one falling into profound sleep.

It was the spectral vision of a work accomplished, done with.

Veiled in the silvery mists of very long past years;
Myself the wraith, from all vicissitudes abstracted,
Of one who had, perhaps, once known expectance,
Had sown in tears and learnt the grave joys of harvest,
Had long ago, perhaps, an enclosed garden tended,
Had for a short while, perhaps, been happy there.





Easter. And leaves falling.

Easter. And first autumn rains.
Easter. And dusk stealing
Our bright working daylight;
And cold night coming down
In which we may not work.

Easter. And morning bells
Chime in the late dark.
Soon those fluttering birds
Will seek a more genial clime.
Time has come to light fires
For lack of enlivening sun.

Summer’s arrow is spent,
Stored her last tribute.
So, now, we plant our bulbs
With assured vision,
And, now, we sow our seeds
Sagely for sure quickening.

So, purging our borders
We burn all rubbish up,
That all weak and waste growth,
That all unprofitable weeds,
All canker and corrosion,
May be consumed utterly.

These universal bonfires
Have a savour of sacrifice.
See how their clean smoke,
Ruddy and white whorls,
Rises to the still heavens
In plumy spirals.

You take me – yes, I know it –
Fresh from your vernal Lent.
These ashes I will now spread
For nutriment about the roses,
Dust unto fertile dust,
And say no word more.



Time and Place (Caxton, 1936)

To the dear Memory



E. H. D.P.


without whom

these had not been written





In a secluded valley, at a spring noontide,

   New September sunlight subdued by fugitive rains,

We saw the ghosts of willow-trees waiting embodiment.

   Assembled in a pasture’s emerald bay.


These were not trees we saw, these were tree-spirits

   In the still noonday shown us, and a waking dream;

Thoughts of young willows not imprisoned yet,

  Impalpable boughs and incorporeal green.


They stood, those delicate spheres (a distillation

   Of purest green and golden mist and rosy haze

Their fabric) motionless; they were poised airily,

   As they had danced thither, and might dance away.


The small bird riro-riro a secret rivulet

   Of song made warble there: the musical shade

Of bird-to-be, fluting in ghostly willow-wood

   Happy-sad lullaby for spirits soon to wake.


Or were these phantom willows from beyond the waves

   Of time’s deep ocean, trees upon whose branches

   Aliens hung up their harps, fair maid her garland

By fatal stream, or shading tyrants’ graves?


And the small bird-trill, fluttering echo faint

   Of oaten pipe that once by legendary shepherd

   Was played in far green European meadow,

Telling old sylvan pleasures, pastoral complaint?


It was a vision of willows in magical young green .  .  . 

  Spring-time is vision; come, gone, imperishable;

  Spring is dim cloudland of new bliss, impenetrable;

Spring is a sunbreathed veil on what shall be, has been,

A bright stuff spun of the seen and the unseen.


Note   [11]



                      SPRING STORM

All night in the darkness the Furies, the Furies
p.    Shrieked on the southwind and wailed in the rain,
p.    Inciting to tumult gales pelting sharp hail
p.        From mighty catapult;
But deep in obscurity earth slept the surer.

At daybreak the storm stayed. Had the dark ones, weary
p.    Of ruthless pursuit, their harsh screaming hushed?
p.    Or nightwards, hard on their quarry, outrun our dusk?
p.        Piercing through mist,
One kiss of the fierce sun waked young Primavera.

She arose; with a hand-twist wrung out her tresses,
p.    Her long yellow tresses; flung naked her young limbs,
p.    Her willowy, white limbs, merrily running
p.        And tripping light;
Her burnished hair, tossing, dressed and undressed her.

She laughed as she crossed the wide lowlands over,
p.    Scattering rainbows stolen from swift rains;
p.    They lay, starry prisms, strown on the vast plain
p.        And mountains afar;
We saw them this spring day; for so is October.




It was a day of young October; wakened

   To breathe an urgent air of summer heat in spring,

Summoned abroad, I saw the season hasten,

   And the bare boughs quicken their burgeoning.


To jettison September’s golden cargoes

   The freighted wattles bowed, and lilacs now upbore

Their perfumed burden, and in all the gardens

   Pink muslin frocks, or white, the cherries wore.


The lime-tree’s tender fans I saw unfolding,

   The birch, bright green besprinkled, parti-leaved,

And saw the sycamores and chestnuts robing –

   It was as if Spring were spinning while Summer weaved.


Beyond those trees, the morning’s opened gateway

   And the great ocean’s sharp, responsive blue

I saw, and new snow-silvered ranges

   And snowy Tapuae-nenuku . . . . .


Time importunes our vision with such favours

   As it revolves, and may therewith devise

A jot of quiet, the regale to savour –

   But oh, that we distil from each new spring’s surprise

Imperishable essence, intellectual labour

   Storing the elixir in mind’s treasuries

   Against the ultimate hour a blinding darkness lies

   On these, by its very turning, ever time-menaced eyes.


Note  [12]



                  The Long Harbour

There are three valleys where the warm sun lingers,
gathered to a green hill girt-about anchorage,
and gently, gently, at the cobbled margin
of fire-formed, time-smoothed, ocean-moulded curvature,
a spent tide fingers the graven boulders,
the black, sea-bevelled stones.


The fugitive hours, in those sun-loved valleys,
Implacable hours, their golden-wheeled chariots’
inaudible passage check, and slacken
their restless teams’ perpetual galloping;
and browsing, peaceable sheep and cattle
gaze as they pause by the way.


Grass springs sweet where once thick forest
gripped vales by fire and axe freed to pasturage;
but flame and blade have spared the folding gullies,
and there, still, the shade-flitting, honey-sipping lutanists
copy the dropping of tree-cool waters
dripping from stone to stone.


White hawthorn hedge from old, remembered England,
and orchard white, and whiter bridal clematis
the bush-bequeathed, conspire to strew the valleys
in tender spring, and blackbird, happy colonist,
and blacker, sweeter-fluted tui echo
either the other’s song.


From far, palm-feathery, ocean-spattered islands
there rowed hither dark and daring voyagers;
and Norseman, Gaul, the Briton and the German
sailed hither singing; all these hardy venturers
they desired a home, and have taken their rest there,
and their songs are lost on the wind.


I have walked here with my love in the early spring-time,
and under the summer-dark walnut-avenues,
and played with the children, and waited with the aged
by the quayside, and listened alone where manukas
sighing, windswept, and sea-answering pine-groves
garrison the burial-ground.


It should be very easy to lie down and sleep there
in that sequestered hillside ossuary,
underneath a billowy, sun-caressed grass-knoll,

beside those dauntless, tempest-braving ancestresses
who pillowed there so gladly, gnarled hands folded,
their tired, afore-translated bones.


It would not be a hard thing to wake up one morning
to the sound of bird-song in scarce-stirring willow-trees,
waves lapping, oars plashing, chains running slowly,
and faint voices calling across the harbour;
to embark at dawn, following the old forefathers,
to put forth at daybreak for some lovelier,
still undiscovered shore.


Note  [13]







The gorse is rusting; dust on wayside verdure lies;

Hedge hawthorns heavily hang down snow festoons;

On purple mountains steadily melt those other snows:

Ever the noonday sky in darkening azure burns;

The airy willows muffled now in wadded robes,

A deeper sigh of wind resounds through denser boughs;

Thickly the grass to leaf, to seed, to hay matures;

The sturdy lambs have given over nursery games,

And reverend cattle wait their hour in grave repose.


Thus in young summer green-wreathed earth prepares

Her year-long increment, and fills her wealthy stores,

Made ready, all unwitting, for the sacrifice . . . .

Thou, heart of man, thou knowest thy dear joys

Are richly added to thee, not to clutch the prize;

These, in due season, presently, thou offerest likewise.





The January sun had veiled

His burning gaze of yesterday,

And his bright glances of the morn

With drooping mists, ere we had hailed

The northern hills; a curtain grey

Was hung about our rural way,

But painted on its shadowy fold

Were, spiral green and level gold,

The willow-trees and fields of corn.

The sturdy wheat’s terrestrial hold,

Established in the former rains,

And sucking yet from source unseen,

Maintained erect those crests of gold

Above the pasture of the plains;

And lively yet, in willowy veins,

Flowed the refreshment of the spring,

Or hidden watercourse might bring

Renewal of their vernal green.


Never, in a remembered year,

Faring by that remembered road,

Stood the crops thicker in the field,

Throve the wheat richer in the ear,

Nor had the bordering willows showed,

Where drain or hidden river flowed,

Such fresh and mossy verdure massed

Against the soft clouds, as they passed,

By a low wandering gleam revealed.


All Summer’s heat burned in that grain,

Embered upon the cloudy veil;

All Spring’s quick energy reborn

In those green leaves . . . The old refrain:

Seed-time and harvest shall not fail

Is news the centuries cannot stale!

Painted upon an evening grey

We keep for memory of that day

The willows and the standing corn.


Be thankful, travellers, who greet

The tawny harvest-fields unrolled,

That bread for body’s need is given

And likewise spiritual meat:

For, ‘tis the lustre on the gold,

The grace wherewith in green is stoled,

Mid solitude of misty grey,

The careless willow by the way,

That lure the soul from earth to heaven.


Note  [14]



                         FOREST SLEEP


Think you, lone wanderer, for an hour withdrawn

From that hot argument by human commerce bred,

Think you not the innermost forest hath foreknown

The whole narrative of the heart’s competence and need?


The boughs wear drapery of woe, their weeds

Weeping slow rain silently, the leaves

Are tears, and sunlight, tear-reflected, goads

The groundling grasses to ascend their stemmy rooves

And run to reddened heaven above the gloom –

Melodious gloom, for everywhere a flute,

Plaintive or jubilant, alike with fleeting gleam

In liquid shadow plashes a pure note.


Though every verdurous depth deny the sun,

And shaft of sun but deepen the cool shade,

And every smallest sound the stillness to adorn

With contradiction stir, harmonious abide

The forest solitudes; think you not truly, then,

The linked light and darkness, laughter and grief

Forecast the consciousness of microcosm, man,

The tuned antinomies of his mysterious life?


Howbeit, wanderer, having slaked your drought

In forest silence, eyes in greenness steeped,

To mossy stature with the knotted creepers stooped.

Cede separateness, and disarm observant thought;

Take root with trees in centuries of decay,

And with their leaves inbreathe the woody fume,

From leafy drowse let individual dream

Drop with those bird-notes in a falling joy.

(Like jewels dropping into a dark well

Dug long ago amid the ligneous dust,)

And all particular dissolve to primal mist,

Whereof the Thinker fashions what he will.


Note  [15]



                         Levavi Oculos

 The delicate lines of the hills of this country,
p.   Rain-swept and sun-tanned, naked to the four winds,
Console our tired eyes as the high-lineaged kine do,
p.   With their fine-chiselled flanks in a near field reclined,
Bring solace, calm as the quiet hills are,
p.   Composed of the same lineaments in one design.

These tussocked hills have the texture of paduasoy,
p.   Seen afar off, or a venerable mere smoothed
And soft-surfaced by immemorial friction;
p.   Or of brown-leathered, road-worn shoes;
Or of shrine-steps, foot-rounded by pilgrims,
p.   Or a dun-wooded, kiss-saluted rood.

Wish not for these again their cloak and vesture,
p.   The rich and dark array, fire-burned and axe-felled
By foreign tribes, (even ours, ours, the invaders),
p.   But hail these clean lines, with him who first beheld
The divine form revealed of a young lissom goddess,
p.   Poised, zephyr-sped, on brim of voyaging shell.


These lines, at night-fall, melting into the arable,
p.   Enclosing wine-tawny and grape-violet shades,
Affect us as a faint air might, played upon a virginal,
p.   So long ago that all pain it held then is allayed;
Or clarinet, so far distant it brings us but a memory
p.   Of healed lament, in the dim twilight dying away.

These hills at dawn are of an austere architecture;
p.   Claustral; like a grave assembly, night-cold numbed,
Of nuns, singing matins and lauds in perpetuity,
p.   While the sluggard multitude without is dumb;
But at sunrise carmined, gilded; as of rare cosmetics
p.   A girl takes, for more beauty now, lest her lover come.

But at mid-day, the bare hills have a remote wildness,
p.   Like a young colt or filly, unrestrained
And running lithely, never having known bit nor bridle,
p.   Or lying down quiet, knowing not spur nor rein . . . .
How often, on dusty plain pent, have I lifted up mine eyes there,
p.   And found freedom, and found mind-liberty again!


Note  [16]






                         Autumn Roses

 The roses of Autumn are less numerous
Than the accoutrement of valiant Spring,
But they are more beautiful, and far more precious,
Each several flower presents itself a perfect thing.
They are more lasting, their colour is more lustrous,
With a more intimate and insistent voice
Their pungent scent speaks . . . What is meant to us
By these perfect, departing roses? The joys
Adorning the declension of life’s afternoon,
Infrequent, rarer, to be remitted soon,
Are so much the fairer, so much the dearer to us,
Declaring the ineffable vision to be nearer to us.
Their perfume is the incense of jubilee
For what the deaf shall hear soon, and the blind see.


Note  [17]


                     SHOWERS OF LEAVES

April is passing; the tired trees are casting their harness

  down, here in the vale where the east wind is bated

      and fans but faintly the rays of the waning sun.


A soft susurration of small leaves in desiccation, a rustling,

    a hushed song is breathed here where the wind stirs


       accomplished, accomplished is their ministration,

                      their service is done.


Back, back, bright ornaments, to earth’s breast,

                      the maternal

     source, whence the vernal sap sprang in young


         when of her life, and the sun’s, and the breeze’s, your

                       substance was spun.


Back to the mattamore, brief golden treasure; storm-


     frail coinage, to the mint again; scattered for largesse

         as summer’s train to the distance recedes, her regency



A light leaf’s kiss feathers my cheek as it flutters

   restwards. Meekly the flitting leaves whisper: Dimittis.

       Requiescat; requiescat, sighs the dying wind’s salutation.


Ah! might I as peacefully, completion serenely accepting,

    its office fulfilled, as freely put off this integument,

        and get me hence. mine eyes having seen salvation.


Note  [18]



                         BY BURKE’S PASS

Nature, earth’s angel, man’s antagonist,

    The stern antagonist from whom he wrests his bread.

Long heretofore with vast magnificence

   Did carve this scene, prepare the arena, spread

Bronze tussocked terraces before precipitous

   Great purple alps, loose glacier-shed

   Fierce-laughing streams in circuitous riverbed.


Lo, man to the assault! In part victorious,

   His pretty trophies sets he up to amend

The natural scene. The corn-stacks aureate,

   Wearing their weights like amulets, the autumn blend

Of orange-spattered poplars, with the various

Gilt willows are his signet. Now, vainglorious,

   He calls the expanse a home and awful Nature, friend.


The austere angel smiles on man’s predicament,

   Forgoes awhile advantage, and abates his blows:

Soft mien assumes of kindly ministrant;

   As on this ending day in genial radiance glows

The whole amphitheatre, stark antinomy

   Of wild and won annulled; and, new-companioned foes.

   Beneath the hostile heights homestead and farm repose.


Homestead? Nay, halting-place, accommodation

   Achieved . . . Did not that sombre regimented band

Of firs, those gravestones, publish man’s condition?

   For night, parental night, shall soon with gentle hand

Suspend her folding arras, resume domination;

   Nature, to rest dismissed by a most high command,

Shortly roll up this planetary decoration,

   Man having passed darkly onwards to an unknown land



                       AUTUMN AFTERNOON

On a small hillock, contented, contented,

   Beside a low valley, I took my repose,

One day in mid-May, wearing on into winter,

   While the calm afternoon drew down to its close.


And I saw that the harvest was over, was over,

   The scything and binding of corn and of hay;

And the latter-day harvest of swarthy potatoes,

   The spaded, dark harvest was now under way.


As in a small mirror, a minishing mirror,

   An old, curving mirror that hung in our home,

I saw the band moving, and bending, and lifting,

   As they filled up the sacks and turned up the loam.


The lorry attending, the long motor-lorry,

   Loading up, seemed to swim on invisible keel;

No sound of its labours came over the furrows,

   No grind of an engine, no round of a wheel;


No sound from the distance, so clear, so pellucid,

   So near seemed the bevy of men and of boys,

With eye and with ear so soothed and deluded,

   I fancied a realm that had never known noise!


The sheep in their pasture, half lost in the tussock,

   On the hillside above me or far on the plains

(Like a stage army that seems to be passing,

   And seems to be moving, but constant remains)


Fretted the herbage, and nibbled the grasses,

   Intent on their pasture, so stolid, so tame;

All tame and all tallied, all followed the foremost,

   And rippled the landscape, but kept it the same.


And as the light lowered, unsullied and glowing,

   It threw a last spell before it should pale,

A magical mesh of golden and coralline

   Mist over hill and gully and dale.


It enveloped the vale; the long lilac shadows

   Fell soft as the folds of an old, faded gown;

All silken the tussock, all velvet the fallow,

   As the lustre grew brighter, before it died down.


 It seemed as if Autumn, red-cloaked for her journey,

   Autumn, kind Autumn, had paused for a while;

Had paused at her parting, remembered the valley,

   Looked over her shoulder, and thrown us a smile.


It lit up the boughs, it illumined the branches

   Of a cluster of trees, so placed and displayed -

A Lombardy poplar, and two aspen poplars,

   And a dark purple willow embraced in their shade –


So placed and disposed, as if for an artist,

   As if for a master to trace and portray

The design of their limbs, the spring of their arches,

   In glowing repose at the close of the day.


All leafless the willows, all naked the columnar

   Lombardy poplar, but aspens wore, high

On their whispering crests, a glittering circlet,

   Still yellow, bright yellow, against the blue sky.


Then the clear light faded, so slowly, so sadly,

   As dear Autumn’s smile passed into a sigh;

The fields were forsaken, the sere poplars shuddered,

As the flotten leaves muttered ‘So now we must die!’


And coming that evening, cold evening, late evening,

   And coming to compline, dismissing the day;

And conning life’s lesson, to fathom the meaning,

   The exquisite pleasures adorning the way,


New every morning, the various treasure

   Measured again, took up all my mind;

The tokens of kindness, the cup in the cornsack,

   The corn out of Egypt, the blessing assigned,


The shining surprises, the rose in the desert,

   Oh, naught but the mercy, the turning again,

Naught but remembrance of kindness and mercy

   Supplying fresh manna the soul to sustain,


New wine distilled, yea, filling the cup full,

   Secret bread, hid manna, my thoughts did employ

And how a red sallow, and two sorts of poplar,

   Upsprung in a valley, had wrought me such joy!


Note  [19]









            Warning of Winter

Give over, now, red roses;
Summer-long you told us,
Urgently unfolding, death-sweet, life-red,
Tidings of love. All’s said. Give over.

Summer-long you placarded
Leafy shades with heart-red
Symbols. Who knew not love at first knows now,
Who had forgot has now remembered.

Let be, let be, lance-lilies,
Alert, pard-spotted, tilting
Poised anthers, flaming; have done flaming fierce;
Hard hearts were pierced long since, and stricken.

Give to the blast your thorn-crowns
Roses; and now be torn down
All you ardent lilies, your high-holden crests,
Havocked and cast to rest on the clammy ground.

Alas, alas, to darkness
Descends the flowered pathway,
To solitary places, deserts, utter night;
To issue in what hidden dawn of light hereafter?

But one, in dead of winter,
Divine Agape, kindles
Morning suns, new moons, lights starry trophies;
Says to the waste: Rejoice, and bring forth roses;
To the ice-fields: Let here spring thick bright lilies.


Note  [20]



             Weathered Rocks

Poetry is a music made of images
p.   Worded one in the similitude of another,
Chaining the whole universe to the ecstasies,
p.   Of humanity, its anguish and fervour.

But there shall be no equivalent
p.   Of these fire-wrought and water-worn boulders,
Tattoo’d and stained, silvered, denigrated,
p.   Rusted and empurpled by exposure
To ocean-salted south and east winds
p.   Unremittingly sweeping over these headlands;

Since in the bosom of this volcano
p.   The fires abated, died down, and were exhausted,
Fretted by aurelian and grey moulds,
p.   Encrusted by frilled lichens, pale, glaucous;
Giving pittance to lissom tussock grasses
p.   And twisted brambles, from invisible crevasses.

Rock, thorn, cryptogram, each has significance,
p.   Each makes contribution to eternal parabole;
And we are kin, compounded of the same elements,
p.   Alike proceeding to an unknown goal;
And they are secret to themselves as I am secret to myself,
p.   And I think they have no part in my dole;

And shall another estimate the influence
p.   Of mass, form, colour, on individual soul,
Or relate my smitten heart-throb,
p.   Beholding these things, to cosmic diastole?
But deep is the given peace, when informed particular
p.   Has respect unto the dignity of the whole.


Note  [21]



                               MAY NIGHT

 The long nights of late May repose to the soul afford;

First snows are fallen to the base of sentinel mountains,

Lost now by fusion of earth and heaven in northern dusk.


A watch of stars is set exalt in the dark sapphire sky,

Sharp the rays strike upon steel-cold spaces;

The frost-stark city-plain glistens with topaz lights.


Glassy-cold, crystal-cold and still-fast, the quickened air

Smites like musical clang of a bell on exulting spirit,

Sense-apprised but unshackled, but free, in heaven-bound flight.


Beholding the noble universe as many-faceted gem

Fast in a royal crown of power, enhancing its splendour,

Not forlorn in the murky dust of uncharted, anonymous mines.


The rolling worlds in their courses seem, suddenly halted and stayed

By a majestical word, to be standing hushed and motionless,

And the populous planet, earth, struck dumb, for a short space.


Here is richness of solitude for tacit work of the mind,

But as singular treasure, prize, soul, this silence,

Lest haply unfulfilled the hour from thee be taken away.


(Even now up-beats the muffled tug of a freight-train

In travail beside the hidden sea; its repercussion,

Taps and taps on fragile bowl of mountain quiet. . . . )


Too soon shall be shown on eastern horizon an urgent sign;

Too soon shall the veil be raised on intricate drama

Wherein to every man is daily allotted his transient part.


But legion stars their vigil do yet maintain on sapphire heights;

The mighty silence is such as of which it is said in the Scripture:

There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.


O radiant night! Here is renewal. Herein is vitality.

Clear from the well of life shall spring the sparkling waters.

Bright, bright are the glittering syllables: Peace, and

Perpetual Light.


Note  [22]




 Over and over, carefully to con

 ‘thy tablets, Memory,’

myself accustomed, the one being gone

who prompted all; night having fallen upon

that territory

where, season by season, we had watched unfold

fugitive beauty; impotent and cold transcriptions.

yet these now shall be

thanks for felicity.



                               DAY AND NIGHT


                                 RISE COTTAGE 1924 -1934


                          Ad te limen amabile levavi oculos

                          tibi haec carmina et quidquid inest

                            leporis pietatis signum dedico


Note  [23]



 Plenipotentiary Dawn, unwrapping royal gift,

   Black-overcloaked, red-robed, stern, transitory,

A day confers. Death-dusty, knees I bend, hands lift

   The awful dowry to accept: arbitrament, doom. glory!



                       RAINY MORNING

 Early in the morning I stood pondering

Intricate interchange of shadow on the dreaming hills.

Soluble colour, moss-green by purple-grey penetrated.

Brown into blue turning, brief gleam of gorse gilding

Softened solidity of sheep-sustaining access.

Of water-fashioned gully soft decline.


Eonial form. Ephemeral coloration.

Ascribable to slow, hesitant, soft clouds hanging

Low overhead, brooding, meditating rain, rain.

At footside, spherical soft clover-head,

Whitish and murry-shaded, spicy .  .  .

Into the dream there crept a little bird-voice,

Again, again, again insinuating his small essential song.


Soliloquy’s no song, once spake a pundit. But not guilty Sir!

Not self-sufficient, soul, nor little hidden bird.


Spirit of Beauty, here, hovering, informing, prevalent,

To thee, to thee, to thee, we sing reconnaissant!

Here, where still solitude unseals thy casket

Of sovran wealth, we secretly salute thee!

Again, again, again, the invisible rain-bird.

Never, never seen, but ever heard,

Repeats, assured, his sweet eight-noted lay;

To thee, to thee, to thee making

Plain, plain, his quiet statement

Of pure, serene, unquestioned pain,

Unquestionable joy.



                         MORNING WALK

 On a bright morning of winter I took the bitumined highway

to forget the fret of the fetters of down-tending detail,

of diurnal subsistence escape delight-dimming screen.


The morning air was full of the cries of humanity active,

red sparks rising up to the whiter light of silence;

the eternal mountains, aloof, maintained their endless procession;

like tender bloom on curve of immature peach-skin

clung fugitive frost to the foot of winter-green gullies;

shone, sun-glossed gold and silver, the satiny tussock . . .


I kissed the chains that bind the body to bounty of earthly scene.



                 Spring Snow and Tui

 We said: there will surely be hawthorn out
down in the sun-holding folds of the hills by the sea;
but suddenly snow had forestalled the thorns there
death-white and cold on their boughs hung the festival wreaths.

It is all one. The same hand scatters the blossoms
of winter and spring-time. The black-robed psalmodist,
traversing swiftly the silent landscape like Azrael,
echoed in clear repetition his well-tuned antiphon,
a waking bugle it might be, a passing bell,
of life, death, life, life telling: it is all one.


Note  [24]




 Everything was white this morning.

  White mists wandered all about the river-bed,
Grey clouds, light infused, conveyed the morning,
p.   Covering with whiteness the wide sky overhead.

White, past belief, the high and snowy mountains,
p.   Phantom-like, visionary; whiteness upon whiteness
Of frozen foam from far celestial mountains
p.   Suffused with soft and universal brightness.

Everything was white, this morning,
p.   Untroubled, luminous and tranquil pure;
Bright as an affianced bride, adorning
Herself with white upon the plighted morning;
p.   Past all debate, all hazard, still, and sure.


Note  [25]




Oh! let me not forget, under grey skies repatriated,

Returned to grey, time-patinated towns,

Not forget, then, this scintillant early sunshine

Playing upon polished new-sprung leaves,

Playing on subtle-shadowed tussock bosses

And stippled spring-grassed slopes of gorse-trimmed hills.

Giving to plain-spread dwellings definition,

Lighting to emerald willow-bordered fields,

Painting lapis-lazuli the wandering mountains.

Shining to diamonds the far mountain-snows.


I may forget the bees’ insistent bourdon

In the willow-flower by the river, the earthy smell,

Alien lark’s carol. little native’s sweet da-capo,

Joyous scents of clover. wattle, furze;

But let me not forget, but lifelong be recorded

Upon my registering eyes’ memorial screen

This brilliancy of green, blue, white. and again blue.

The Spring-purged sky’s dazzle,

The first sun’s brightness, the golden lightness,

This glitter, this glory, this morning jubilee.


Note  [26]



                       SPRING ON THE PLAIN

 Captured and gentled, harnessed to use of man;

    Harrowed and harvested, charted to human hold;

With a price branded, noble and savage plain,

    Hereto have untold ages swept down water and stones.

      Quarried and roaded, sown with essaying grass-seed,

      Sown with fleecy herds, scaled by defying fences,

      Dog-watched and fire-purged, free, tempestuous mountains,

Hereto uncounted centuries have rolled down boulders and snow.


Blade-sprung paddocks and spaces of pregnant plough,

   The man-disposed prospect; and, rounds of misty green,

Soft-spun as seed-balls adrift on level fields,

    Willows laced about the course of water-races and streams;

     Gold-traced pastures, incrustations on foot-hills

     Of bloom-bright gorse-banks, divisional bounds all golden,

     Into the glow of molten gold we gaze with eyes undazzled,

And heady fume of this candescence, still undrunken, breathe.


 Now is the year’s prize, and slow guerdon of tilth;

   Now is replenishment of fine young lambs and calves,

Brown-burnished heifers and new white lambs that frisk

    Beside the yellow shield of furze on verdant ground at large;

      And all is pavilioned with sheer celestial azure

      Hazing the far alps, their turquoise and silver;

      And: Life, life, resurgent life! sings the exalted skylark,

As on the battlements of spring he mounts his joyous guard.


Hereunto the seafaring forefathers were come;

Unknowing, to this dower were we brought from warding womb;

Even to this earth-response, farms, and teeming plain,

Terrestrial stress, recurrent fields, service of sun and rain.

   There is no more richness, no riper consummation

       Of terrene fate than this conjunction with earth-form,

    Search you the wide sea, or fly the empyrean,

        Unresting spirits; unto earth the earth-born

Must return, as spiring lark nestles to sod again.


Note  [27]



                        SOUTHERLY SUNDAY

 The great south wind has covered with cloud the whole

                     of the river-plain,

soft white ocean of foaming mist, blotting out, billowing

fast to the east, where Pacific main surges on vaster bed.

But here, on the hills, south wind unvapoured encounters

                    the sunshine,

lacing and interlocking, the invisible effervescence

you almost hear, and the laughter of light and air at play overhead.


Seabirds fly free; see the sharp flash of their underwings!

and high lifted up to the north, the mountains, the mighty,

                      the white ones

 rising sheer from the cloudy sea, light-crowned, established.


This sparkling day is the Lord’s day. Let us be glad

                      and rejoice in it;

for he cometh, he cometh to judge and redeem his beautiful universe,

and holds in his hands all worlds, all men, the quick and the dead.



                         GREY DAY

Under leaden sky prisoned,

on dull errand bent,

by shackles of needs-must

chafed and obstructed,

clanking my manacles

I plod stubbornly

in stony dust.


Sudden to right-hand

on mournful east sky,

steel-grey sky, gun-metal sea,

image of hidden light

lying in level lines,

beyond the lowland,

on dun sky and sea.


Quick to memory comes

Clement’s Inn Hall set

with show of pewter plate

polished to proper sheen,

grey of silver and slate;

between riches and penury

pride of sober mean.


Next, on the left-hand,

pattern set forth defined

of bold magnolia leaves,

gold on the underside,

on face burnished green,

giving back silver gleam

from grey-muffled sky.


Pattern! that echoing word:

purfle of priestly robe,

scarlet, blue, purple wove,

pomegranates, bells of gold,

breastplate of precious stones,

for glory and beauty shown

to Moses in dreadful mount.


(The Spirit of Beauty thus

circumstance will outwit,

thus in a flash set free a

morose prisoner.)


 Note  [28]



 Gaol-breakers from routine, we halted our four-cylindered
trusty and timeworn chariot upon a yielding greensward
beside the random shingle of a sequestered by-path
through land half-unredeemed and half-subdued by settlers,
and with the sweet perfume of lawless gorse invested,
upleaning to the wall of tawny, rock-strewn Port Hills.

Untroubled, slow milch-kine, with prizeworthy rich udders,
behind us nuzzled softly among man-selected grasses
in the shadow of a tree-dark, wind-forbidding hill-spur;
and we looked upon a piece of planted orchard, spring-green,
sunlit, sheltered, where, a procession of bridesmaids,
twelve young quince-trees quivered their blossom-sprinkled garlands.

Two baskets, osier-fashioned by soldiers invalided
from the last and vastest of our armageddons,
furnished convenient rations for a pretty meal alfresco;
refreshed, we fell to sharing and collating the material
proper to the occasion of our impromptu festival,
the looked-for, newly delivered, fortnightly foreign letters.

Becalmed in anamnesis, we gave ourselves to silence;
on past, present, and future I gazed with widening compass,
and dipped with questing plummet deep in darksome

considering that those composed and sweetly-sleeping hill-slopes
were but the mellowed refuse from infernal furnaces
flinging, the other day, their molten boulders heavenwards.

And that from this clear and cloud-bedecked blue ceiling
might shortly rain down fearful and deadly fire and brimstone,
(they say) from long fore-planned and fore-damned machinations,
fruit of our most elaborate rationalisations of hatred
and justifications of terror, prepared for the hara-kiri
of earth’s loftiest masterpiece, lore-drunken humanity.

But for a midge’s moment, between the noble unconscious
mineral uproar, the mute half-conscious on-tending
river of bioplast, and our immense abolishings,
sapient obliterations, mutual annihilations,
before the ultimate crime, the grand triumphal felony,
the last and final blasting of fragile-flowered life-tree.

But for a brief interval, this bread broken in amity,
this notice of a goldfinch flitting among the leafage
of stripling quince, whose shell-pink decoration
sways very gently on delicate shell-blue canopy;
but for a brief moment this balm and opiate of song-lark
filling with heedless ecstasy the calm precarious sky . . .


Note  [29]



                       SUMMER AFTERNOON

All through the sun-possessed long afternoon of midsummer


the rustle of leaves has solaced my ear-sense, the green-blue,


exhilaration of lively leafage on sky-spaces eye-sense

amused, as the crossing of elegant segmented wreathe of wistaria

and tend of interlaced spirals wavering lightwards and woven

on skeleton lattice above has cut out the shimmering pattern

of sky, and I lie in an ice-green and sapphire diapered cavern,

cerulean radiance by verdurous trellis sevenfold intensified.


Whispering fitfully reminiscence of snow-fields, the south wind

fans to dispersal the breath of heliotrope and jasmin

out of their pleasant enclosure, and yonder the coastwise vision

between insignis branches of heavenly azured Pacific

shows where the ultimate plunge of surf on invisible sand-dunes

always resounds, as it lashes its spray in the face of the breeze and

dazzle of sun; flashing and white I descry in the farthest distance

the line of its foaming circle below the delicate amethyst hills.


The bees and the buzzing flies, the hum of scurrying motorists

beyond the musical leaves has lullabied my passivity;

what honey, what hidden rewards sought for by restless gyrators

they know; by burning sky and iridescent seclusion

boundlessly prisoned secure, I husband the intermission

from curious chase; beside me a jungle-beast, gentled,

slumbers; together cast by the slow up-surging of centuries

on actual beach, we absorb the genial effulgence of here and now.


The current sap, impulse of piston or fluttering pinion,

the way of the wind with the waves, facture of subtle aroma,

beating of ocean-tide, impregnation of planet

by potent star, heart-cries: fearful dynamics propounded,

passed by and postponed, to-day like sheep of the pasture

we lie down at ease; not we ourselves made us;

for joy and heat of the westering sun his benign incandescence

let be, let be; enough, my furry comrade. to drowse and dream

             that we are.


Note  [30]





Routine-galled, dulled, by many years cumbered.

slipping halter holiday-wise,

away into the west land.


So much cool green to see; such deep silence

to hear; clear silence; bright waters;

such deep green of tree-shade; such chiming

of gem necklaces – birds shaking,

concealed, the leaves with crystal songs.


To hear, at evening, young mountaineers,

come down godlike from sunlit pinnacles,

tell of prowess and peril; and, taken from pocket,

show faceted crystals from high rock-surfaces.


To muse: All this, it has been like to crystal,

cold-dropping waters, clearest bird-voice,

sheerest silence, light-flashing glacier.

To be invited: Please have this crystal.


And so, like fay-bestowed flower in the fairy-tale,

beauty, fast in a crystal. bearing,

back to the city.


Humanity has ever found it comfortable

to render richest experience portable,

heart to heart with a sign indenture,

sum up in symbol, most high adventure;

till wars gone by, and significance broken,

folk ask: What mean you by this token?


Let us in kindness covet for every man

one lovely memory at least in life-span

fit to be locked up in crystal reliquary,

so all may see it, yet none see, save he.




          Once again, roses,

we see you painted on the screen

of trees and azure-shadowed plain

and faintly purpled mountain-chain,

       as in past years beholden.

          I go down to call them by name,

                 all these my roses;

 the crimson and the scarlet and the golden,

snow-white, ivory and flame

of sun-dying, and pink flush of prime;

          the great deep noble joy

          and the blush-tipped midget toy

fit for a child’s posies.

In this early summertime

everywhere are wreaths and bowers

of roses sprung from eglantine

   man’s care and life’s caprice,

man’s art from earth’s experiment,

chief among a thousand flowers

   for the adornment of our peace.


But what is this reminding pain?

what weapon keen, kris, javelin,

what arrow from an alien sphere

pierces my serene content

with deeper hurt than starts a tear?

this silent, viewless weapon, whence?

      Beauty, for a wounding spear

          you take my roses!


Extreme predicament is this

of our terrene eminence,

of our estate the royal bane,

we cannot know what a rose is

until we betake us hence,

but pray that sight may not be dimmed

nor heart hard to new surprise,

while spring rain and summer wind

bring again the roses’ scent,

         till such divine venom tips

         and medicates your skilful dart,

 Beauty, now in Death’s disguise,

silencing these stammering lips,

sealing these astonished eyes,

        that our sight closes

     on earth’s dear mummery,

to wake upon your counterpart,

           mirage roses,

where new-born lovely in the unveiled morn

is hailed by the clear eye for true,

         peace wears no rue

for past enchantment, and prepares no treachery,

and pleasure bears no sting, no spiky thorn,

         not like these my roses.


Note  [31]




 This jar of roses and carnations on the window-sill,

Crimson upon sky-grey and snow-wrapt mountain-pallor,

(Sharp storm’s asseveration of cold winter’s on-coming,)

How strange their look, how lovely, rich and foreign,

The living symbol of a season put away.


A letter-sheaf, bound up by time-frayed filament,

I found; laid by; youth’s flowering.

The exotic words blazed up blood-red against death’s shadow,

Red upon grey. Red upon grey.




 The music of the seasons moves to rallentando

        Inscribed upon the centuries’ symphonic parchment,

As now the rapid-stepping retinue of summer

        Gives way to grave-eyed March.


Slowly the late fruits swell, to be, unruddied,

    Raped all untimely from reluctant branches

For merchants, were else, fulness-fated,

    To earth-burial cast.


Now are the roadways newly scored and gritted

    By the small feet of myriad ewes in transit,

Pawns in the game and play of man’s subsistence,

    From grass to other grass.


Now Autumn calling from some northern territory

    To northern trees in lassitude of ardours

Too long sustained, assures to them remission

   From their shade-spinning task.


Leaf to spread leaf, in shudder of recognition,

   Trembles; and as of dawn on nebulous darkness

One rosy-tufted cloud foretells the crimson,

   So Autumn’s countermark.


Her golden seal upon one crest is branded

   Among the verdurous boughs of those supplanters

Set on the southern plain by man’s disposal

   And metamorphic art.


But the dim hosts entrenched among the gorges,

   The aboriginal groves, undying green, make answer:

Autumn, pass on. No arbiter dismantles.

    Nor may sun parch


Our rain-retaining thickets. Even as the mountains

   From age to age in majesty and apartness,

Recording on their rock-entablatures returning seasons,

   So stand we fast.


Stand fast, old forests; until man the migrant,

    The meddler come; would mend, mars; his mastery

Fire-stolen, your charcoaled stumps will witness

    Where he has passed.


Where he has passed the wintry vultures hover;

     Deliberate death he wills, and where he passes

Waits death, deliberate. But to dissolution

     All moves in general march,


The music of the seasons beats in soft suspension

     To immemorial mode, till there is writ: finale.

Upon the score. Then shall the furious trumpets

     Sound their decisive blast.


But listen, now, to mutter of wind, nor’-wester

     Nursing storms to come; it darkly arches

The evening sky, and rising, moans, and sighs away

     To silence; oh, but hark


To Autumn calling: that we miss not blest diaphony

     Of death and birth; dread not ever advancing

Resonance, of no veiled train funereal

     But, on eternal path,


The superb trudge of the Creator’s almoners,

     Life hid secure conveyed within their casket,

(As under carapace of that wind-fallen walnut

    Thuds a muffled heart.)


Note  [32]




 Between the purple canopy of cloud-mass

And indistinguishable density of earth-form

A space, at evening, of pale yellow, sunlit;

Inscribed most delicately upon it

The black reticulation of a naked hawthorn.


I was aware, then, of a thicker darkness

Blotting the shadow of my bitten picture –

The breathing presence of a stocky heifer

Browsing beside me in a richer twilight.


Accord I knew with the confederate creature

Fellow-agisted on small star for sustenance;

In common, we, upon earth’s mercies pensionary;

But my convenient food in that hour was a construction

Of cloud-mass darkly overhanging light-rift,

And the black latticed twigs of a bare hawthorn

Printed most exquisitely upon it.



                               AFTER DARK

 How lustrous in the west pale gold produced to lilac

In the pure height where eve’s one star prevails,

Keeping her tryst tranquilly, and tranquil the observant

Who from earth’s dusk that silver lantern hails.


Smoulders on northern cloud the garnet glow of sunset,

But soon extinct, above the alps’ long black stockade;

By raven sea, red gleam of verging beacons;

The plain’s deep largeness lies in darkening shade.


A murmur low and faint moves in the vale’s obscurity,

Uneasy city’s plaint, or restless ocean’s swell;

Sleep, sleep, world, sleep, the pomps are consummated;

Turn to thy rest, watcher, all is well.



                         AT THE LIGHTING OF THE LAMPS

                                         (FOR MUSIC)


The solemn, soundless music

Of the sun’s setting reverberates

Along the low red cloud-reefs,


And the last echoing reflections

Of his great incandescence

Diminish among the mountain-tops,


As the sky’s ebbing harmonies

Die down in modulations

Of gold and red to red-gold,


Old gold, pale gold. gold-veiled

Lingering pearl-greyness.

Grey silence of sleep.


The mountains stand round about

Like sable-vestured chorus,

Until they are swallowed up

In the all-encompassing dark.



But see! from the deepening dark

Of the dumb and slumbering plain,

Sudden a new song springs;

Gold lights on the plain

Suddenly gleam and quiver,

Suddenly, over all the plain

Glimmer, now, golden lights.


As instruments with strings

Quiver, as dreaming reeds

Gleam, soft, in symphonies,

On the wide orchestral plain,

From the foot-hills to the sea’s

Margin, bright companies,

Choirs of golden lights.


O glittering harmony!

O tranquil jubilee!

The lamp-set champaign sings!

A thousand golden lights

Gleam, a thousand sparks

Glow, out of the deepening dark

Now, the deepening night.



And out of the deepening dark

Of night, above and beyond,

Calm antiphonal stars

Now from on high respond;

And the music of the spheres

Out of the depths and heights

Hails, to vigilant ears,

Flickering human phares ;

Greater and lesser lights

All in their measure set,

Proud imperial orbs

Answering by name,

By note in the vast accord;

Stars that moons beget,

Planets of magnitude

Earth’s murmurings amplify;

In fiery celsitude

Suns to sun reply;

Flames to ordered flame,

Lights to stedfast light,

Stars to serene star,

Into the profound, far

Distances of night,



Were you not wont, early illumined Christians,

To sing, at the time of lamp-lighting, hymns of confident praise?

Now should a high seraph, sounding his silver clarion,

Echoing in heaven’s vaults these lamp-kindling lauds,

Summon melodious shouts of bright clair-audient angels

Because the All-wise, All-merciful, All-compassionate

Father of Lights, in whom is no shadow of turning,

Has laid the foundations of all universes secure.


Sleep by the shrouded mountains, now, pastoral ministers,

While the Shepherd of Israel musters his flock of suns and moons,

Sleep by the hidden rivers, now, fervent industrials,

While the Master of Music weaves with his time-space looms;

Sleep, now, peering philosophers, venturing physicists,

The Lord of Love his alembic allumes, his crucible glows;

The watchers and holy ones of our darkness are cognisant,

But no shadow of night their lucid vigil knows.



Praise, praise to thee, Almighty Artificer, Architect,

Poet, whose pure inexhaustible spring eternally flows,

Artist, whose marvellous works eternally are made manifest.

Eternally making, in making, eternally finding repose.

Praise to the All; the One; Ineffable; and Intimate;

Calling thy stars, thy souls, thy least electrons by name;

For thine, as ours, the human heart that beat upon Olivet

Under these same stars, and thine the unquenchable flame

Of love in that heart . . . .  The city lights of Jerusalem

Burned low . . . . beloved, pitiless city of light

Put out, put out; but in pity, on high to be lit again,

For the price of the heart broken, the life put out for a night,

But mightily rising, rising again, and prevailing mightily

Light of lights, Lamp of the City, Orient blaze

Of glorious splendour, on us shed forth thy golden rays!

In thy light our lights are consumed, and yet not utterly,

Night after night, in peace, amen, we hymn thy praise.



Still the gold lights quiver

By hidden sea and river;


From the dim arena below

Shines their concerted glow;


And the bright stars answer still

Over above the hill.


The deep dome overhead

Is fully furnished


With lamps, and they are lit

To the utmost bounds of it.


And each mighty spark

Sheds its gentle light

Into the silent dark.

The silent night,

On and on, through the dark, the silent night.


Note  [33]



                        CLOUDY NIGHT

 The heavenly vault, to-night, is a structure of massed cloud  

Irradiated by the hid light of the mid-September moon;

A marble and alabaster forecourt of the Lord’s House,

Its pillared convolutions sculptured by a seraph’s tool.


(No night there, spake the rapt visionary,

No need of sun, neither of moon to lighten it;

The glory of God, he said, did lighten it,

And the Lamb, the Lamb of God, is the Light thereof.)


So sleep I now, for ultimate infinitude,

As my heart’s core thy candle lighteneth;

With thine effulgence, Lord, thou showest interfused

The mysterious, cloudy architecture of life and death.



                       Twinkled to Sleep

Cerulean night-sky
p.   Star-set;
Stygian-dark river-plain
East, north, west,
p.   Dance-set;
Myriad amber-flashing
Lights dancing, rays flashing, all night.

Delight! delight! Inexpressible heart-dance
p.   With these.
Strange heart-peace, in sparkling lights!
Blithe heart-ease, starry peace, dancing repose!
Star-charmed, dance-enchanted eyes close,
p.   Appeased.

Dance in jet-dark depth, in star-set height,
Lights dancing, west, east,
Star-high, heart-deep,
p.   All night.



                             NIGHT RAIN

 In the dark of the night, rain:

Unlocking of water-floods;

Washing away, obliterating

All night-whisperings;

Nought but the sound of falling waters

Returning whence they came.


By the noise of the rain set apart

In a lightless cloister,

What am I, in the night,

Listening to my suppliant heart

In the play of thy forces, Genetrix.

What am I but a particle tossed

Upon vast arterial waterways.

Borne down in the dark?


In the ark of thought I abide,

Lattice-wrought of experience.

Faith-pitched for bitumen.

And apocalypse to guide,

Riding on the tide of consciousness.

On waves of pleasure, pain;

Responsive microcosm, alive

And free upon the great main,

Out of this musical enclosure.

This ringing cage of rain.



                          THE CRUCIFIX

 Aroused from sleep by a rising wind

on a clear night and starlit,

when I awake up after thy likeness,

some echo chanted,

I shall be satisfied with it.

Thy likeness, thy likeness, I considered,

wakened wide by this saying,

dimly might it not be mirrored

on such a night as this,

in a glass darkly, not plain.

This night, epitome of thy handiwork:

garment, not of darkness but deep indigo light;

bodyguard of vast dazzling worlds;

this rounded and immense silence

tell of truth, beauty, might.



But now, by wide phosphorescence,

down by the riverside,

of myriad street cressets

lit dim, I descry

a stark carven gibbet.

Oh staggering symbol of distress!

Thy paradox resolve, Enlightening Spirit:

this scatheless, soul-intoxicating night of loveliness.

and hung there truthful high over my pallet,

the crucifix, the crucifix.




 Now in the dark of night disposed

Sleepwards, but aware meanwhile,

(Night of cloud, sky speechless,

Lights on alluvial plain muffled,

neighbouring hill-lights long extinguished)

Under the silence I hear

Deep calling to deep.


It is the surge of unplumbed seas

Of being, from before time was:

Fundamental urge of atoms:

Slime-emergent, vegetable armies.

Phytoplankton, mosses, grasses;

Dirge of vast massy forests

Passing away fulfilled.


Incessant protoplasmic swell

Of life impelled to ideal form;

Cell to fellow-cell murmuring

In dark arteries of supreme organisms

Marine memories; the old oceans

Curled shells record; salt streams

Wherein all life was laved.


No wind, that sound,

But earth’s yearning sighs

For answerer, for deliverer

From too heavy burden

Of bewilderment, of unspeakable

Hid guilt, hidden hurt,

Of terrible, hid joy.


Deep of heart calling heart,

Art yonder? calling. Yea, love, here.

Deep of thought: thus, pondering,

Thus, thus, probing. Nay but posing.

Deep of soul: Lord, Lord,

Out of the deep have I called.

Lord, hear my voice.


Not lost, these cries,

In the deep bosom of time:

Hear, to the low perpetual rumour:

Kyrie eleison l Deus misereatur!

Out of the abysm ever resounding

Diapasonal answer: Alpha, Omega,

I am the Beginning and the End.


Hear again . . . . deep under

Earth’s unease, immutable doom

Thundering; appeasing the pain, the expectancy

Of the prisoned. the burdened, looking for entelechy;

Listen, as it were the sound of many waters:

I, the Slain, am the Meaning. the Guerdon;

I am the Ground. the Meed.


Listen again . . . . it is the Spirit

Come, saying, come. The dumb

Cosmos learning speech. Come Lord!

It is the Beautiful Shepherd piping

Unwearied in the eternal meadows;

The Bridegroom, ready Bride summoning

With dominant: Behold I come.


Note  [34]




All day long, prismatic dazzle,

Clashing of musics, challenge, encounter, succession;

Gear-change on the up-and-down hill of hypothesis;

Choice, choice, decision, events rivetting shackles:

Hazardous tests, new wine of escape . . .

                     oh, strange noviciate!

Bright stimulus, venture, tension, poised preparedness.


But at midnight, infinite darkness,

Opulent silence, liberty, liberty, solitude;

The acrid, mountainy wind’s austere caresses;

Rest, rest, compensation, very suspension of death;

Deep stillness of death, dark negation . . .

                      ah, thy heart-beat,

Origin, Signification, dread Daysman, Consummator.


Note  [35]



                    THE SMALL HOURS

 Dying, dying,

the small, keen, shrivelled moon high up there in the west;

long, level cloud-banks lying low over the mountains,

dark earth steeped deep in rest.


Dying, dying,

the world to my heart, my heart to the known world;

intellectual light belying the say of roving senses,

foreseeing their sails close-furled.


Old ardours decadent;

dreams flying ghostly to dim caves whence they came.

How congruous midnight silence with interior stillness

sustaining a slow-dying flame!


Dying, dying,

condemned to go down to the abyss with every beast,

darkness prevailing . . . nay! even now daunted, paling;

dawn, night-denying, hail to you, hail to you in the east!


Note  [36]



                         WAITING FOR DAWN

 On a grey morning before the stars have gone out,

hoarse-voiced east-wind assaulting sleep-silences,

I wake and remember the cruel embraces of death.

The pitiless clutch, the fearful down-hold,

the fierce, the final assertion of physical mastery,

sobbing and stifled endeavour of fugitive breath.


Spirit of life, Spirit of beauty, make haste to save us:

show in the east again the signal of victory;

as in the beginning let the beacon be lit.

Orient splendour of light everlasting, come thou,

illumine us who sit in death’s darkness and shadow.

Creator, oh cast this last enemy down to the fiery pit.



                           WINTER NIGHT

 All night long, Spirit of Beauty, hast thou played to me

Upon an instrument of immeasurable range;

Thy great stars scattered on black immensity,

Thy moonlight let loose about me, white and strange.


At bird-embroidered dawn, on incredible pale blue hast

Thou laddering, slender, rosy cloud·bars laid;

And all this prodigality in my small casement compassed,

All this melodious wealth before my sight displayed.


All night long thy pure music, beautiful Spirit,

Disciplined my spirit, these keen, deep hours of June,

And I lie quiet, offering my heart to be a wintry wind-harp,

Whereby thou mightest, peradventure, breathe a heavenly tune.



                                6TH JULY, 1930

 Morning bells now weave their notes through muffling mist-rails;

My waking thought, impetuous, threads with restless shuttle

In and out the warp of factual detail.


Light-season ascending scales the wintry citadel ;

Day-loving birds their aubade have begun again,

Knowing full well the turn of the year has come again.


Lifting my head, I view snow-peaks irradiated

With vital rose, where late, cold dormant sepulchres

They slept at this same hour in shadowy greyness.


Responsive to thy rhythms, energising Spirit,

Let now my torpid soul awake and gird herself

With garments of goodwill, sandals of service,

With the stout armament of sustained praises.



                      NIGHT OF JULY

 Midnight; midwinter; nearing the full moon of July.

How transparent, Spirit of Beauty, the night blue of the sky!

How extreme the clarity of thy silvern stars;

How serene the silence that no wind-intrusion mars;

How soft the dusk doth sea and sky enfold;

The thousand lamps of the plain burn with subdued gold;

On northern bound apparent, frozen mountain snows

Seal with their immobility slumbering earth’s repose.


Eternal Spirit of Beauty, thy thoughts are very deep;

Unsearchable are thy riches. Wherefore dost thou keep

The soul athirst for loveliness? Far past

Our dream thy plenitude – shalt thou not at the last

Give drink enough to appease from the fountains of thy deep?

To-night, by this draught renewed, I turn to sleep.



                             MIDWINTER DAWN


Sloth held me fast in pillowed nest

But the ascetic birds would not let me rest;

Such joy their clamorous hymns and praises voiced

I got me up to see why they rejoiced.


A world of pallid blue with flecks of gold;

Blue-white snowy ranges wintry-cold;

Eastward a minim wraith of silver light

Forspent Selene in the July night.


But on the horizon o’er the sapphire sea

A radiance and a growing red adviséd me

Of the pre-eminent and primal flame

Whence all our mirth and all our music came.


Anon forth-tolling bells confirm the quire

That first had warned me of the signal fire:

This is a new day! a new day!

A new sunrise! birds, bells proclaim;

My soul concurs. There never was a day.

Nor ever will again be one, the same.


Note  [37]



                        23RD JULY, 1930

With secret touch the Spirit of Beauty summons my soul

To conscious from unconscious being.


Six strokes of remote time-telling bell

Relate my thought to commonalty.


Opening my eyes to ambient austere dusk

I know that winter is ebbing away.


While jetty yet the expanse of low alluvial plain

Studded with red-gold flambeaux.


A griseous lambency vibrates the aerial sphere

Where silvery star-ghosts hover.


Cold salt snatches of breeze coming in from the sea

Shake the silences of my watch-tower.


Search well, spiritual winds, the recesses of my heart

For the ways of wickedness in me,


Before the concealing casket of darkness opens wide

To display its enamelled jewels.


Coral and amber clouds in turquoise blue sky

And opaline snowy mountains.


Note  [38]



                  9TH JULY,1932

 Grey sky, grey city-smoke;

garden all gone bare, gaunt mountains;

pitiful pipe of well-nigh homeless birds . . . .


But then these stinging sun-roused messages

tossed hither salt-cold from the pacific sea;

those foremost, dawn-dyed, rose-red eminences,

those snow-fast, soon-to-be-incarnadined strongholds beyond . . .


There shall be no insistence upon symbolism:

let each eye take the tokens, heart interpret,

individual tongue make fit respond.



                                  DARK MORNING


When the dark night so thick about us lies

  None should surmise

A near sunrise,


When, low unto the sleeping valley bowed,

  A weeping cloud

Doth us enshroud,


When, although dull and heavy earth be mute

  Their jubilant salute

Alert birds flute,


Each chorister with clear and confident hymn

  Calling the seraphim

To warrant him,


Ah, then we know that with delighted zest

  Shall rightly be expressed

All we have guessed;


And know that we, when ultimate sunrise

  Hath outranged our surmise

With strange surprise,


Like homing birds, out of this darkling dream

  Flown to the Supreme,

Shall find our theme


Fast knit into the tissue of the symphony

  Sustained everlastingly

By the glassy sea;


For these enthusiast passages do secretly belong

  To the redeemed throng

Their new song



            Lever de Rideau


the clocks strike

seven, seven, seven, and church-bells

chime busily, and the plain-town heavily wakes;

a salt-sharp east wind flicks and swells

and tosses my emerald silk curtains;

translucent green on blue the empyrean, and lo!

north and west, endlessly limned and painted,

my mountains, my mountains, all snow,


Now a change begins in the heavenly tone-chord;

to the east, eyes! where the sea is incised

like azure ice on sky of vermeil;

oh, dream on prolonged, beautiful prelude!

hushed still, delay, summoning bird-song!

hold, magic touch, be arrested, lovely crisis of sunrise!

when yonder death-white summits are rose-flushed

and glittering, I must



Note  [39] 

                             OCTOBER MORNING

“All clear, all clear, all clear!” after the storm in the morning.

The birds sing; all clear the rain-scoured firmament,
All clear the still blue horizontal sea;
And what, all white again? all white the long line of the mountains
And clear on sky’s sheer blue intensity.

Gale raved night-long, but all clear, now, in the sunlight
And sharp, earth-scented air, a fair new day.
The jade and emerald squares of far-spread cultivated
All clear, and powdered foot-hills, snow-fed waterway,
And every black pattern of plantation made near;
All clear, the city set—but oh for taught interpreter,
To translate the quality, the excellence, for initiate seer
To tell the essence of this hallowed clarity,
Reveal the secret meaning of the symbol: “clear.”



 Coming back to life this morning,

I hear chastising rain-tornadoes

Racing north from icy kingdoms,

Lashing eucalyptus twigs for whipthongs,

Dashing the young tender verdure

Of roses on their own thorn-armature,

Torn and pierced in shouting fury;

But, laced upon the fierce confusion,

Sweet, sweet, eclipsing tempest,

Matin bird-song’s fluted descant . . . .

  (Night, night, all thy storms have broken over me,

  Yet is thy music, life, unsilenced, oh! and lovelier.)



             SUMMER DAYBREAK

 Words are too dense, too dull, too blundering,

Pigments too turbid; yet it must be limned

This scene, it must be hymned, this hour;

I am constrained to join the waking choir,

To ease mine eyes of their acknowledgement.


Now, before sunrise, the sky is a great pearl

Of bluey sheen, but eastward flushed with fire,

With forecast fire; no starry dart impales,

This soft suffusion, nor pallid moon

Flecks the sheer candour of this crepuscule.


Above the plain wan cerements of mist

Lie, curtaining from unknowing world

The rites of dawn, and low beneath this pall

The city watch-lights, paling, glisten,

Points of fine gold in argent undertone.


In the near shade of tenebrous trees not green

As yet for dimness, numerous unseen presences

Essay, subdued, sotto voce, tentatively,

Their tiny phrases, with miniature flute twittering

Of imminent mysteries, opening to us, but not yet.


“Daybreak!” the tenuous bugling ventures,

“Wake! wake! Joy! joy! Not yet! Very quiet, very quiet!”

Drop, drop, sweet notes, upon the attendant silence,

Into a heart advised, alert, accorded,

Waiting the eternal edict: Let there be light!


 (Will it be thus, thus, that quickening dawn?

so still, so tearless, so composed, so gentle;

will clinging dreams linger awhile like mist?

some timeous candles glimmer, unextinguished?

will native and colloquial notes prevent

with gradual song the peerless jubilation?

tincture of immortality be meted

in mercy, drop by drop? lustration measured

of these poor orbs, lest instant vision dazzle?

and will the scene, unveiled, appear like this,

loved and long-known, and beautiful, and new?)


Note  [40]



                           NOR’-WEST NIGHT

 A dull haze hangs heavily about the night-watches;

A veiled star trembles in the obscurity of my vision;

The frail young moon withdraws her furtive lamp.


Now low, now loud, moans the night-long nor’-wester

Let loose upon us from outer caverns of darkness,

Bellowing wild as one in torment, now lulled, now mute.


Wail of wind takes words in burden of dark menace:

Baseless and soon to be dissolved is the great cosmos;

The planetary fabric endures but a short space.


This lethal dirge drugs me, melting my limitations;

I lean upon the liberation, yet do not lose myself;

I look into the utmost negation of the abyss.


But at dawn, exhausted, north-west wind gives over,

Gives way to silence and soft adverting noises,

Shadowy rodents nibbling the dim fringes of night.


Anticipation takes hold the while these tremulous moments

Prepare us for the familiar, and shaken from trances

Of wind-bewitched night-time, I am hearing, awake,


Cock-crow from a sequestered shelter, faint and fitful,

And far-off nagging of dogs obeying trade-bound drover

Very early afoot on some hill-winding road—


Life-cries; and now the esteemed music I have listened for . . . .

It is thou, minikin! thou, minstrel mite, my soothsayer:

There shall be mirth, there shall be weeping awhile, but no dread.


Note  [41]




                      AUTUMN DAWN

 Again, again, gold steals upon the greyness
Of hazy dawn; reveals wide sunburned plain,
Pure mountains speaking peace, the sea’s
Bright shining, sky-reflecting mirror;
Now soft assuaging mists, their assignation
With thirsty sod fulfilled, mildly disperse;
And resting earth, her increase having yielded,
Bathes her swart limbs, placid, in the morning sun.

Give up, give up, my soul, to this still hour,
To these gilt beams, all thine attention;
To the sun’s work give assent, and acquiescence
Unto succession render; percipience lend
To precious balms upbreathed by faint air-stirrings;
Audience to all but immaterial riro-riro,
Who with small blissful flute musics thy meditations
Till they are full-attuned to his serenity.

Record, record, memory, these calm awakenings
To autumn amplitude—here are so few left, now,
Before (what spiritual sheaves there may be, garnered,)
That other morning breaks on other shore.


Note  [42]




 Time, tacit wardress of our earthly paradise,

Is it well done that you speak no word ever of wider fields?

Howbeit, you have not cognizance, for more than us your prisoners,

Time, are you bonded slave.


But the birds are commissioned to remit messages;

But every tree a whispering, mysterious harp holds;

The sea has a voice, rivers are everywhere melodious,

And there are certain earth-mounds,

There are old mountain hollows charged with oracles . . . .

Sometimes, while the wind changes, we may hear sounds

We have waited for, our hearts being tuned secretly

To ultramundane stave.

They were frighted, heard they no imperial

Still voice hidden in the breeze

Shall say to mandatary Time, obsequious:

Hand me the keys.


Note  [43]





                                          OTHER POEMS






                     14TH AUGUST, 1930

Pensive, I apprehend the unending pageant

Set forth before my waking eyes this tender morning,

Veil upon veil of ocean-whispered vapour

Driven slowly westwards by the sea-sprung east wind.


Softly the drifts of mist-grey into lilac,

To purple turn, to umber, shell-rose and vermilion,

Passing on the sea-breeze slowly and dissolving

Into the periwinkle dome of noble daybreak.


And, breasting eagerly the sea-fresh current

Seawards beat three birds, with urgent flutterings,

Lost now in wreathing dusk, and now emerging,

Till, bare-discerned black specks, far haze receives them.


The mountains stand fast in their ranks, numinous,

Imperial calm in white snow, lordly sun-gilt,

Stand fast over against the sea, and north and westwards,

Eminent from steel-blue shadow, shining splendid;


But the impermanent clouds drift, drift to dissolution

And the black, fluttering birds, so sharply there, now are not;

Even so we, athwart insentient largeness,

We flutter eager, a few moments, and then are not.



                                    IN A HOSPITAL

            Christmas eve, 1932


They bring the lily and the rose

And all the summer’s bright array

To decorate our Christmas Day.

But you were born amid the snows


The lily breathes by many a grave

And crimson roses hide a thorn

And on a cold night you were born

By love’s arbitrament, to save.


Lord, there is still the world to mend

And you must still be born again

And still must suffer and be slain

Ere we shall see the End, the End.


Across the stable’s cold obscure

The star-obsequious wizards’ eyes

Discerned with questionless surprise

The secret of the heavenly lure;


And still our wisest search the skies

In weariness of troubled earth,

And still the gospel of your birth

Pales their stupendous mysteries.


Perhaps upon this night serene

Some shepherd wandering on the plain

Might yet perceive a seraph’s strain

Spilt over from the dark unseen.


My ear is dull, and my dim eye

Truth-dazzled; nor can my heart feel

More than tired camel brought to kneel

In that poor caravansery.


Brother, song-welcomed, ah, you see

With your young eyes, and pure, and kind,

What faulty kinsmen, halt and blind,

And sorry kinswomen we be;


But since you are come down to know

The plagues and sores we must lay bare,

And it is your intent to share

In our own patrimony of woe,


We shall be glad this summer night,

And sing ‘God rest you’ and ‘Nowell,’

And ring the holy midnight bell,

And set the candles burning bright.


But oh, young Ransomer, be quick

To take your royal love-bought power,

Come, Lord, even in this hour,

Succour the prisoned, heal the sick!


Leave for awhile the angelic train,

Leave the loud paean, leave the feast

Though of your brethren I the least,

Come, hold my hand, and ease the pain!


Note  [44]



                   EVENING WALK IN WINTER

 Tussock burned to fine gold, and the sheep bore golden fleeces

by the sudden alchemy of wintry waning sun,

and stepping eastwards

My arrowy shadow sapphire led me on


So airy light I seemed to climb, the earthy path so gilded.

the illumined hill appeared in that transmuted hour


the self a quenchless effluence of fire.


But overhead marmoreal white now hung the cold moon ominous

in ashen blue of empty dome. our doom

exhibit thus

even so to frozen death we must all come.


Now lost the living orb, and all his spacious ardours

concealed behind black rocky alps in wintry grave.

Falling darkness

possessed the plain, pale streams, sad fields and groves.


Now stars rushed out to fill the void with sparkling affirmations

their cold acumen spoke no comfort, as before,

the heavens vacant;

mirror-moon shone false from fire afar.


Darkly alone, the errant hour outspent, led downwards

by homing track. the lowly glittering chain

lit round

hearth-fastness beckoned there was warmth within.


Oh not by late-launched planets flung in heavens equivocal

may we, or making moonlight wan and wild


be certified of life or death, of heat or cold.


The bright particular hearts mysteriously enkindled

for us – the daily love. like fire that glows and runs

half hidden

among the embers – this the warmth we live by, our unsetting sun.


What if the light go out? What if some black disaster

of total nightfall quench the vivid spark?

Oh might we hearken,

then, with night-initiate Spaniard to the Answerer

who said: I am the dark.


Note  [45]







Not as in time past, mountainy spaces,

not as in time past, great solitudes,

no more can you, deep silences,

speak the consoling word.


Again at sundown I have watched the tussock

glow and fade to pallor, merge with darkness

where rain-hewn rocks, ice-chiselled bastions

bleed to death in cataracts of stones.


Down on the valley floor how lovely

now the thin strands of Rangitata river,

on leaden ground their silver damascene,

too deep below to discover sound or motion,

all still and set the sinuous pattern shows.


High above riverbed now veers a questing seagull,

so far, so small, so sharply white and black, he takes

my gaze. Moving he moves not, yet is moving,

advanced to his intention and his end.


Night falls. The uttermost crests

burn to the sun’s good-bye . . . .

It is the hour of sacrifice. Those fires

are sacrificial . . . . As to the wind his pinion

gives ocean-homing seagull, repose and impulse one,

so to the high places we bring earth’s burden,

the travail, stress, and patience of the ages,

so to the high altars the heart’s anguish,

our grief, our desolation, even our despair . . . .


Night has fallen. Earth sleeps wrapped round

with the sure purpose of eternity.


Note  [46]



          KAIKOURA. WINTER, 1941

The mountains and the ocean meet

beyond these pastures; in perpetuity

the planet’s bastions endure, resist and cede

to the obsequious sea’s assault and undermine

hurling its breakers. I hear the distant roar

of that encounter, now, from this seclusion . . . .

I have watched a seagull

swoop and wheel and dive and dash himself

into the uproar, into the vaulting spray,

rejoicing. The rage is his delight, the storm’s his home.

therein he takes his pastime. . . .


But I no sea-bird! On this gradual mound.

Upon its firm and interwoven turf

I rest and gaze, in the shelter of a bank

Of gorse in bloom and breathing scented air,

At thickest yellow thrust across the blue

Of mountain snows and up to the hot sun:

On a far hillock’s crest the aspiring arms

Of a dark pine against the placid sky;

Or at the bare, the rose-brown willows bunched

Where a curved dimple, rain-filled, in the grass

Finds the deep-carved conduit by the road.


No flock is gathered in this field’s enclosure

To stir the silence; but in further meadows

The browsing sheep and the set, ruminant cattle

Impart to the still scene a soothing rhythm;

And now bird-shuttlecock, black fantail flutters

About a low bush, and, perched sideways,

Courts my attention to his circus fancies,

Nearer, each sally, varies his approaches,

Invites response to his confiding prattle . . .

Small, fragile bird, today shall send us happy,

Here in this intimate Eden. this close anchorage.


Yet still I hear the thunder of the waves’ blind battering . . .

I fear the hunger of the undertow, the sucked stones’ hiss . . .

False peace! all’s peril. Here’s no hold, no harbour . . . .

Oh! to ride, seagull, surely

over the abyss of whirling waters.

to plunge into the tumult

unseeing, safe, in the dark crypt of the breakers

(loosed, my soul, from earth-lust)

secured through insecurity.



                                    SIX MEMORIALS



                           OCTOBER, 1935

The green has come back, the spring green, the new green,

Darling, the young green upon the field willows,

And the gorse on the wild hills was never so yellow,

Together, together, past years we have looked on the scene.


The loved little bird is singing his small song,

Dearest, and whether the trill of the riro

Reminded, we wondered, of joy or of sorrow -

Now I am taught it is tears, it is tears that to spring time belong.


You were laughter, my liking, and frolic, my lost one.

    I must dissemble and smile still for your sake,

    Now that I know how spring time is heart-break,

Now you have left me to look upon all that is lovely. alone.



                          NOVEMBER, 1936

                               (WEBB. STREET)


Today I trimmed my lonely dwelling place with flowers;

        Memories ask garlands:

        I see you, darling,

Dispose. deft-handed, your bright bunches in that happy home

                      of ours.


Crisp iris, lily-of-the-valley, and the tasselled lime,  –

      For Spring had spoken Summer

      When Death, new-comer,

Took you at night-fall, dearest, even as at this time.


So I repeat the rites, with tear-dulled eyes.

      Of foretime pleasure;

      Heart with its treasure

Not here; seeking the lost dear in her dim paradise.


Now that our rain-bird, little grey bird, pipes again

      Hid in the leafage,

      And for my grieving

Links, oh I could think, a note of hope, of hope, into his

          plaintive chain.


Because their tender beauty is in tune with pain,

      Because their fragrance,

      As the seasons hasten

By and back, blends our bright summers with the summers that  



Because the years to months diminish. days to hours.

      And love is stronger

      Than death’s anger

I have adorned today, alone, my brief abiding place with flowers.



                    NOVEMBER, 1937

                         (WEBB STREET)


Young summer, yet again young summer, and the flame

Of green, new lit, runs all about the boughs;

Heart pain. new stirred, wells up in deeper tide.


Pink chestnut. and white chestnut, laden may,

Laburnum swinging loose upon the wind,

Our riro flitting thither in the leaves –


Three summers have passed by me since that hour

When pain had blinded, darling, your bright eyes,

And I stood by the casement where you lay


Dying, and looked upon our garden in its prime

Of freshest green, and all the roses gay,

Then, on the glowing morrow, you were gone.


Hath not eye seen, dearest, what you see

Now? nor ear heard – oh was there even then

For you a summons audible “To-day, with me . . .”


Left with all this, I lack what made it mine.

If you lack nothing, I will not complain.

I shall not wish you here again, with me, to-day.


(‘Aujourd’hui, avec moi, en paradis’ – quelle promptitude!

[quelle compagnie! quel  séjour! –  _]Boussuet[.)_]


Note  [47]



                         FOR NOVEMBER, 1938



And now the Egyptian-blue harbour and the enclosing hills,

and you not here beside me at the commanding resting-place,

not here beside me, gazing, with your little exclamations of joy

at the beauty of the shipped harbour you had loved so well,

not here with confiding hands, bright glances, laughter, little sighs.

So still, today, so blue, so silent is the pleasurable sea –

but we set forth that dark night in the September tempest

together, never again together, and pain was in your eyes,

and fear in my heart not to be stilled with the soon-stilling storm,

for I must shortly send back to the familiar harbour

what had been you, never to voyage more, what had been you -

what had meant you, to see, to touch, to cherish, and to laugh at.


(Dearest, these four years I have been consenting to live onwards



Sitting beside your dust at the destined place of pilgrimage

under the pine trees mournful in the warm wild north wind,

under the tapping cabbage-trees you were fond of, full in flower,

beside your dust, and the hill gorse golden over beyond me,

I vowed to your bright spirit, lost to me, not to the gathered dust,

that in some sort love released be presently shed abroad from you,

that your love be not all lost in me, my darling, but something

                    raised again,

(Creator, pitiful Redeemer, love-reviving Spirit, make it so!)



                      NOVEMBER, 1939



Once again, my darling, it is come, the time you died,

And on this quiet harbour once again I look -

Not that other harbour, not your earthly bourne,

But in this place where you had left me once

That I full-end, unhindered, an insistent task,

And went back solitary to our common home.


By the umbrageous guard of the old burial ground

I now rest solitary, breathing as the trees breathe

Soft the sea-fresh air, and in the vivid oak,

The scented pine and ancient manuka the random birds

Bestrew their notes, and take up little tunes,

The same we often listened to when you were here.


Hearts that once had ached for those whose sleeping bones

At first were laid beneath this grass, have ceased to ache

Long since, their fleeting semblances in turn

Lost like that wisp of cloud upon the rocky heights

I have watched dissipate, and now resumed in blue –

My heart will ache for you until it also sleep.


The old man gathering cones now wanders near

And gives me cheerful greeting. Individual grief

In all his charge of sepulture these many years

He could not know. The sun is warm today.

And windy storms wide scattering much fruits

Have furnished kindly warmth for him in winter’s need.


The noon hour nears. Goes, with shouldered sack

Homewards the cone-gatherer. The birds, the trees

Subdue and fuse and lose their tunes in the sun’s rays,

In the rising murmur of stress, recess on musicked shore,

Where the stealthy waves of the climbing tide turning over

Mark time, as life’s appointment ebbs away.


Return I now to join a casual throng. No more

Rounding, alone, a coign of the sea-scalloped track,

Shall I, surprised, perceive my dear, with eager pace

Coming to meet me, and with eager look of love,

And go companioned; nor may I ask to know

Such cherished company, such tender love again.


To me, unworthy, once in punctual succour sent,

By the same sacred Will on sudden caught away,

You left me, darling, desolate – might it not be to find,

To accomplish in my solitude some unfinished work,

To glean some stormy harvest that remains – oh rest,

Rest in your lucid haven. See, I am content,

Rest peaceful. The task ended, then I follow on.


Note  [48]



                            SPRING, 1940



This morning I saw suddenly a weeping willow green,

Beside the mechanic streets and grey, stone-heavy bridges

In solitude of grace above the sullen river

It stood, all green again.


Marvel! Apparition! – Before the all-wintry years

How often we had watched, in Spring, the purple-misted

Veils to a green haze dissolve about the willows,

Condense to a green rain.


Out to the pastures, then, we went to seek our Spring.

Now, in the city pent, Spring sudden overtakes me –

As in time past my joy, hear my complaint now,

Spirit of Beauty, hear.


What shall be done with Spring? Until this grief

Meet vaster renaissance, now for immortal symbol

Here to sustain me, I may take your willow,

Your bright tree of tears.


Faith for the putting off of the vesture, and the fall,

Hope for the long nakedness, and last is charity –

The clothing of expectant boughs with amplitude

Of living green again.


Match Spring with vision, Spirit of Beauty, bring

With your persuasive love to the inward eye awakening,

Lest looking on this life to count what time has taken

I cannot bear the pain.


Note  [49]  



                              BY THE RIVER ASHLEY





It was the river, the river. We played there.

out, out of the house, out of the garden, out under the wide sky,

The little rivers, convenient to us, they ran apart, they conjoined.

They ran clear and bright over precious stones,

purple and pale green and dark green, and the white pebbles too.

Take them home, the best colours, put them to dry in the sun –

Gone! out of the water of illusion, gone dull, all the same grey.

(Well we understood the experience of Rosamund and her

                                Purple Jar!)

But there were still good shapes and good smooth feel;

find these for pockets.

So many little moss fields, red fields with harvests, green cushions,

very small white flowers there were among the big stones,

and the stones had strange ornamentations.

Always the chatter of the waters. cheerful chattering,

rippling over the pebbles, round the stones . . . .


(Over there by the bank the deep water,

cart-wheels going down – don’t look there to-day;

grand with a shudder of fear when the two-ponied

wagon of ours would splash in and dash up

and our carriage rugs wet from the ford.

A Drive! a day of excitement,

carried away over the foothills,

our river dwindled behind, other strange rivers beyond.)


Hurry, hurry, say the rivulets. Haere ki te moana,

Hurry, hurry, hurry to the sea.

No hurry, said the little shallows,

a long day, a sunny day, let us go to sleep in the sun.

We were drowsy, on a bit of soft sand lying could look at the sky.

Then out of a basket the open-air food, with a different taste.


Over the wooden bridge, rumble-bumpy, tugged the North Train,

so reliable, so reasonable the North Train,

it knew where it was going and got there in course of time.

Noble look, incomparable sounds, but it went out of our lives

without envy. A rich life we had, and the days full . . .

(oh God, Thou knowest the sorrows, I will tell of the pleasure,

others lacked what I had, if I lacked their joy).


Tired of all these the various satisfactions

at last gladly home, our day gone grey like the stones,

the young animal bodies craving but one satisfaction,

but one, Bed.




Willows in autumn. Washing day,

Willows between the orchard and the drying-green,

Smell of yellow leaves fallen to the wet ground,

Wash-tubs on benches beneath the trees.

Beyond the house of the copper boiler (a place we loved)

White clothes plunged into deep blue coming out whiter –

Queer, but we did not question. It was so.

We watched the dance of the linen white on the lines

(Clothing was white in those days, we did not question,

Not even the starch, part of the order of things).


Did my good angel pluck my sleeve?

Vision of the golden willow leaves,

Narrow, clear-cut, shining,

Sharp on the Mediterranean blue,

Echoed and echoed again and everywhere -

Fragments of ancient window glass in village churches,

Or in a dusty corner of Chartres,

This from the Omega, that held in the Green Crypt,

Or displayed in the windows of the palaces of Tottenham

            Court Road.



Alternate with the schoolroom plan

of books to scan and sums to score,

my father’s powerful edict ran at his convenience

I should ride out on my pony at his side

attentive to equestrian lore.


On a fine morning thus we rode

at foot-pace on the formal street

(observant of accepted code).

But soon upon the grassy verge

of stony road no need to urge

impatient horses’ eager feet.


Then slowly towards us we perceived

a train of spring-carts coming near;

it was a procession of the bereaved.

My father checked the horses’ stride,

and quickly had them side by side

to face the road, the approaching bier.


I watched his gestures – lowered eyes,

and hat held lifted, till the train

of silent ones had passed us by –

The vision of that simple rite

brought apprehension, set alight

new understanding in my brain.


No pomp of Paul’s high dome. or dim

mysterious Abbey’s requiem,

or shrine where echoes latin hymn.

no act that speaks more loud than speech,

has brought more nigh the spirit’s reach

the unveiling made at Bethlehem.


The cortège passed, our ride resumed.

we cantered by the river-bed.

The world its wonted face assumed.

My lathering pony to restrain

engaged my wits with seat and rein,

I thought not on the passing dead.


Happy – but ah, the fleeting years

too few such filial mornings gave.

Too soon I knew strange choking tears.

and helped with unaccustomed hands

to fashion flowery wreaths and bands

for carrying to my father’s grave.



Sauntering home from church we lingered

looking away northwards over the white gates.

I see our visitors in go-to-meeting dress.

I do not see my parents. Perhaps that day they chose

to ‘stay behind’ – mysterious phrase of those times,

meaning reserved from children, I must think.


Above that gate the downs. I see them now,

I see them gentle brown and amethyst.

Our grown-up guests the landscape viewed

and commented – Lovely! perhaps a sketch?

My eager praises added met with prompt rebuff.

Too young, too young to notice lovely views.


 Wrong, Madam, wrong – dear Wordsworth was more reasonable.

Too late! the great African bishop rhetorician

cried out upon himself, too late have I sought thee,

Beauty! – His vision abides. Let us begin here

upon the downs . . . . A few years gone

I passed them by in autumn and their fields

a basket of ripe fruit, of purple plums

and yellow, apricots, ruddy pears -

but to my memory of earlier day, soft pasture.


The guardian Mt Grey still casts a spell

of greatness, majesty that does not go with measurement,

a mien of kinship with all renowned heights,

a look of having kept inviolable for a thousand years

a secret of great comfort. Who has not traced,

looking from southward hills, its noble outline?

Who has not watched the pencilled shadows deepen

upon its flanks? I do not see you there,

Mt Grey, looking down at the end of our village streets,

but I was conscious. I have found you, since,

something familiar, and I salute you now, for your significance.



That bridge from the city, that was Waimakariri.

Greater than our River Ashley, the playground.


The rivers, over and over again the rivers.

They hasten to you, look up them, up the riverbeds.

From the soft dark forest they come down.

Or from the snows, carving their patterns

Of tawny terraces they come hastening down

To where by archipelagos of silver,

Lizard twists of azure, tranced lagoons,

We hear the ripples and the silence sing together

With the small soft sighing of the tussock,

And flax-spears’ rattle, and, might be, a seabird’s call.

These were the harmonies, splashed often now

By sudden hue of alien weed, still beautiful.


Too late we hear, too late, the undertones

Of lamentations in all the natural songs

What have you done with my mountains?


What have you done with my forests?

What have you done to your rivers?

Too late.




The hour is dark. The river comes to its end,

Comes to the embrace of the all enveloping sea.

My story comes to its end.


Divine Picnicker by the lakeside,

Familiar friend of the fishermen,

Known and yet not known, lost and yet found,

The hour is dark, come down to the riverside.

The strange river, come find me.

Bring if it might be companions

In the tissue of the Kingdom, but come thou,

Key to all mystery, opening and none shall shut again,

Innermost love of all loves, making all one,



Note  [50]






fond” – Used here in two senses “cherished or entertained with strong or unreasoning affection” and “foolish, silly” OED



Poor Man’s Orange = a New Zealand variety of grapefruit

Montana Rubens =a pink clematis.



sinensis” = Latin for “Chinese”

Time’s winged chariot” – Andrew Marvell “To His Coy Mistress”



instant” = ‘Pressing, urgent, importunate’ OED


Water Colour

 “chef d’oeuvre” = Fr. “masterpiece”

 “aquarellist” – from “aquarelle” = a kind of painting or illuminating with Chinese ink, and very thin, transparent water-colours; used to represent flowers, small landscapes, etc.’  (OED).



fraicheur” – French ‘fraȋcheur’ = ‘freshness, coolness’



the Angelic Brother” = Fra Angelico, early Italian Renaissance painter.



invested ”- sense following on from “engarrisoned = ‘To enclose or hem in with a hostile force, so as to cut off approach or escape; to lay siege to; to besiege, beleaguer; to attack.’  (OED)



villeggiatura” = ‘Residence at a country villa or in the country; a holiday spent in this way.’  (OED)



appel”= summons (to a court of law)


Willows in the Valley

riro-riro”  = NZ bird ‘grey warbler’



Tapuae-nenuku” = ‘Tapuae-o-Uenuku, formerly Mount Tapuaenuku, is the highest peak in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island. The name translates from Māori as “footprint of the rainbow”,’

regale” n. = ‘an entertainment, a festivity (obs.). Later: a sumptuous meal; a banquet; a feast’


The Long Harbour

Akaroa harbour. Canterbury New Zealand

honey-sipping lutanists” = NZ bell bird, or possibly tui.


Drive to North Canterbury

seed time and harvest” – Genesis 8:22 ‘While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’


Forest Sleep

competence” = ‘An adequate supply, a sufficiency of. Obs.’ [_ (OED)_]

[_ _]

Levavi Oculos

Levavi oculos” = Latin “I will lift up my eyes” Psalm 121 ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help’

the divine form“ – a reference to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

[_ _]

Autumn Roses

declension” = declination. ‘The action or state of declining, or deviating from a vertical or horizontal position; slope, inclination; a declining or sinking into a lower position, as of the sun towards setting’.  (OED)

remitted” = ‘To lessen, diminish, abate (a condition, a quality, etc.). Obs.’  (OED)

[_ _]

Showers of Leaves

mattamore” =  Obs.‘In northern Africa: a storehouse, cistern, prison, etc., located underground’  (OED)

Dimittis” = Latin, ‘you dismiss’ from Luke 2:29 ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace’

Requiescat = Latin. ‘may he/she rest’ R.I.P. [_ Requiescat in Pace_] ‘may he/she rest in peace.

[_ _]

Autumn Afternoon

minishing” =‘diminishing’

flotten” =  ‘ flooded with water’ Obs.  (OED)

the cup in the cornsack/the corn out of Egypt” – Genesis 44:2

the rose in the desert” – Isaiah 35:1

sallow”  = ‘willow’

[_ _]

Warning of Winter

pard” = leopard

ardent” =  ‘burning, glowing or gleaming like fire; flaming, fierce’ (OED) as well as the more usual ‘eager, fervent’.

Agape” =  Greek. Christian love

[_ _]

Weathered Rocks

denigrated” = ‘trans. To blacken, make black or dark. lit. Now rare.’  (OED)

aurelian” = ‘gold, gold-coloured’ (OED)

parabole” = ‘A comparison, a simile; metaphorical speech ’ (OED)

[_ _]

May Night

repercussion” = ‘Originally: reflection of a sound; echo, reverberation; an instance of this; (now rare). In later use: recurring sound or vibration’  (OED)

There was silence . . . “ Revelation 8:1

thy tablets, Memory” – Mathew Arnold ‘To my Friends, who ridiculed a tender leave-taking’

[_                       _]

Day and Night

Dedication: “  Ad te limen amabile levavi oculos

                          tibi haec carmina et quidquid inest

                            leporis pietatis signum dedico ” = ‘to you, lovely dwelling, I lift up my eyes, to you I dedicate these songs, and whatever charm they may possess, as an emblem of my devotion’

[_ _]

Rainy Morning

eonial” = ‘Of or relating to an aeon; lasting an aeon; eternal, everlasting’  (OED)

murry-shaded” =  murrey: ‘mulberry red’  (OED)

reconnaissant” = French ‘grateful’

[_ _]

Spring Snow and Tui

Azrael” = Archangel of Death in Islam and  Hebrew lore.

[_ _]


candour”. Bethell. brings several meanings into play ‘Brilliant whiteness; brilliancy. Obs.’ , ‘purity, integrity’, ‘Freedom from mental bias, openness of mind; fairness, impartiality, justice’  (OED)

[_ _]

Out on a Spring Morning

da-capo” =  musical term, ‘repeat from the beginning’

[_ _]

Spring on the Plain

candescence” = dazzling whiteness or brightness

[_ _]

Grey Day

Clements Inn” =  one of the Inns of Court in London

[_ _]


bioplast” = ‘a unit of bioplasm as an independently existing entity capable of growth and reproduction; the living part of a cell’  (OED)

[_ _]

Summer Afternoon

insignis” = pinus insignis, Monterey pine.

[_ _]

Rose Wreath

rue” = ‘Any of various southern European dwarf shrubs constituting the genus Ruta (family Rutaceae), esp. (more fully common or garden rue ) R. graveolens, which has yellow flowers and bitter, strongly scented feathery leaves, and was formerly much used for medicinal purposes.

[_ _]

Autumn on the Plain

entablature” =’ Architecture. That part of an order which is above the column; including the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice.’  (OED)

[_ _]

At the Lighting of the Lamps

phares” = lighthouse light, beacon, synagogue lamp  (OED)

celsitude” = ‘Lofty position, high rank; dignity, eminence’  (OED)

clair-audient” = ‘The faculty of mentally perceiving sounds beyond the range of hearing,’ (OED)

allumes” = ‘Fr. ‘allumer’ to light up, switch on

Cf. Revelation 21.23 ‘And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof’

[_ _]


out of the deep . . . De Profundis. Psalm 130.

kyrie eleison” Greek. ‘Lord have mercy’

Deus misereatur” Latin ‘ God have mercy’

[_ _]


Daysman = ‘An arbitrator; a mediator’  (OED)

[_ _]

The Small Hours

decadent” = ‘falling away or declining (from a prior state of excellence, vitality, prosperity, etc.’  (OED)

[_ _]

Midwinter Dawn

quire” – variant spelling of ‘choir’

[_ _]

Lever de Rideau

lever de rideau” – French = ‘the curtain goes up’ e.g. at the start of a performance.

[_ _]

23rd July, 1930

jetty” = ‘jet-black’

griseous” = ‘Grey; spec. in Zoology and Botany, bluish grey, pearl-grey’ (OED)

[_ _]

Summer Daybreak

accorded” = harmonious, reconciled

timeous” = timely, ‘Done or occurring sufficiently early or in good time; prompt; (Law) done before a fixed time limit has expired’  (OED)

prevent” = ‘To act before or more quickly than (a person or agent); to anticipate in action; to act in advance of’  (OED)

[_ _]

Nor’-West Night

adverting” = Latin ‘advertere to turn or direct towards, to direct (the senses) towards, to pay attention, to notice, to remark, ascertain, to attract the attention of, (with animum ) to direct the mind (towards), to pay attention (to)’  (OED)

[_ _]

Autumn Dawn

succession” = ‘The course, lapse, or process of time. Obs.  (OED)’

amplitude” = ‘Of things immaterial: width, breadth, fullness; copiousness, abundance’  (OED)

[_ _]


obsequious” = ‘Compliant with the will or wishes of another, esp. a superior; prompt to serve, please, or follow directions; obedient; dutiful’  (OED)

[_ _]

In a Hospital

obscure” – noun; Chiefly poetical. ‘Obscurity, darkness; the ‘outer darkness’; an instance of this, a dark or obscure place or thing. Now rare’  (OED)

star-obsequious wizards’ eyes” = the Magi, obediently following the star.

strain” = ‘a series of musical phrases that create a distinct melody of a piece’ Wikipedia.

caravansery” = ‘A kind of inn in Eastern countries where caravans put up, being a large quadrangular building with a spacious court in the middle’  (OED)

[_ _]

Evening Walk in Winter

outspent” = “Completely spent; exhausted”  (OED)

night-initiate Spaniard ” = St. John of the Cross. Author of “The Dark Night of the Soul”

[_ _]

Looking down on Mesopotamia

[_“Mesopotamia ” -  a high country sheep station in the South Island of New Zealand _]

[_ _]

November 1937

Hath not eye seen . . . [_ ”- 1 Corinthians 2:9 ‘ ]Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.[’_]

Today with me . . . ” – Luke 23:43 ‘And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’

Aujourd’hui, avec moi, en paradis’ – quelle promptitude!

” Fr. “’Today, with me, in paradise’ what promptitude!, what company! what a place to stay!”

[_ _]

November 1939

umbrageous” – ‘Forming or affording shade; shady’  (OED)

[_ _]

Spring 1940

mechanic” = ‘Belonging to or characteristic of the lower part of the social scale or the lower classes; vulgar, coarse’  (OED) ‘now archaic and rare’

[_ _]

By the River Ashley

Rosamund and her Purple Jar” = short story by Maria Edgeworth ‘The story is about a young girl, Rosamund, who needs a new pair of shoes but is attracted to a purple jar which she sees displayed in a shop window. When her mother gives her the choice of spending her money on shoes or the jar, she chooses the purple jar. “You might be disappointed”, her mother cautions, adding that Rosamund will not be able to buy new shoes until the next month. When the girl gets home, she discovers that the jar was not purple but filled with dark liquid. She cries: “I didn’t want this black stuff!” Adding to her disappointment, her father refuses to take her out in public because she looks slovenly without good shoes.’

haere ki te moana” Maori. ‘go to the sea’

dear Wordsworth was more reasonable” – ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ William Wordsworth.

‘ . . [_. . those first affections,             _]

[_        Those shadowy recollections,  _]

[_      Which, be they what they may,  155_]

[_Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,       _]

[_Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;          _]

[_  Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make             _]

[_Our noisy years seem moments in the being _]

Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,         160

[_            To perish never:’_]

[_ _]

[_ “the great African bishop” – St. Augustine.] _Confessions ‘‘Too late have I sought thee, thou Beauty, so ancient and so new, too late have I sought thee.’

[_ _]

[_ _]

[1]fond” – Used here in two senses “cherished or entertained with strong or unreasoning affection” and “foolish, silly” OED



[2] Poor Man’s Orange = a New Zealand variety of grapefruit

Montana Rubens =a pink clematis.



[3]sinensis” = Latin for “Chinese”

Time’s winged chariot” – Andrew Marvell “To His Coy Mistress


[4]  “chef d’oeuvre” = Fr. “masterpiece”

 “aquarellist” – from “aquarelle” = a kind of painting or illuminating with Chinese ink, and very thin, transparent water-colours; used to represent flowers, small landscapes, etc.’  (OED)


[5]instant” = ‘Pressing, urgent, importunate’ OED


[6]fraicheur” – French ‘fraȋcheur’ = ‘freshness, coolness’


[7]the Angelic Brother” = Fra Angelico, early Italian Renaissance painter.

[8]invested ”- sense following on from “engarrisoned = ‘To enclose or hem in with a hostile force, so as to cut off approach or escape; to lay siege to; to besiege, beleaguer; to attack.’  (OED)


[9]villeggiatura” = ‘Residence at a country villa or in the country; a holiday spent in this way.’  (OED)


[10]appel”= summons (to a court of law)


[11]riro-riro”The grey warbler or riroriro (Gerygone igata) is an insectivorous bird in the family Acanthizidae endemic to New Zealand. Its natural habitat is temperate forests. Also sometimes called grey gerygone, teetotum and rainbird. 


[12]Tapuae-nenuku” = ‘Tapuae-o-Uenuku, formerly Mount Tapuaenuku, is the highest peak in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island. The name translates from Māori as “footprint of the rainbow”,’

regale” n. = ‘an entertainment, a festivity (obs.). Later: a sumptuous meal; a banquet; a feast’




[13] Akaroa harbour. Canterbury New Zealand

honey-sipping lutanists” = NZ bell bird, or possibly tui.



[14] seed time and harvest” – Genesis 8:22 ‘While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’


[15]competence” = ‘An adequate supply, a sufficiency of. Obs.’ [_ (OED)_]


[16] Levavi oculos” = Latin “I will lift up my eyes” Psalm 121 ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help’

the divine form“ – a reference to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus



[17] declension” = declination. ‘The action or state of declining, or deviating from a vertical or horizontal position; slope, inclination; a declining or sinking into a lower position, as of the sun towards setting’.  (OED)

remitted” = ‘To lessen, diminish, abate (a condition, a quality, etc.). Obs.’  (OED)



[18] mattamore” =  Obs.‘In northern Africa: a storehouse, cistern, prison, etc., located underground’  (OED)

Dimittis” = Latin, ‘you dismiss’ from Luke 2:29 ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace’

Requiescat = Latin. ‘may he/she rest’ R.I.P. [_ Requiescat in Pace_] ‘may he/she rest in peace.



[19] minishing” =‘diminishing’

flotten” =  ‘ flooded with water’ Obs.  (OED)

the cup in the cornsack/the corn out of Egypt” – Genesis 44:2

the rose in the desert” – Isaiah 35:1

sallow”  = ‘willow’



[20] pard” = leopard

ardent” =  ‘burning, glowing or gleaming like fire; flaming, fierce’ (OED) as well as the more usual ‘eager, fervent’.

Agape” =  Greek. Christian love



[21] denigrated” = ‘trans. To blacken, make black or dark. lit. Now rare.’  (OED)

aurelian” = ‘gold, gold-coloured’ (OED)

parabole” = ‘A comparison, a simile; metaphorical speech ’ (OED)



[22] repercussion” = ‘Originally: reflection of a sound; echo, reverberation; an instance of this; (now rare). In later use: recurring sound or vibration’  (OED)

There was silence . . . “ Revelation 8:1

thy tablets, Memory” – Mathew Arnold ‘To my Friends, who ridiculed a tender leave-taking’

[_“Ere the parting hour go by,   _]

[_  Quick, thy tablets, Memory!”_]



[23] Dedication: “  Ad te limen amabile levavi oculos

                          tibi haec carmina et quidquid inest

                            leporis pietatis signum dedico ” = ‘to you, lovely dwelling, I lift up my eyes, to you I dedicate these songs, and whatever charm they may possess, as an emblem of my devotion’



[24] Azrael” = Archangel of Death in Islam and  Hebrew lore.


[25] candour”. Bethell. brings several meanings into play ‘Brilliant whiteness; brilliancy. Obs.’ , ‘purity, integrity’, ‘Freedom from mental bias, openness of mind; fairness, impartiality, justice’  (OED)


[26] da-capo” =  musical term, ‘repeat from the beginning’


[27] candescence” = dazzling whiteness or brightness


[28] Clements Inn” =  one of the Inns of Court in London


[29] bioplast” = ‘a unit of bioplasm as an independently existing entity capable of growth and reproduction; the living part of a cell’  (OED)


[30] insignis” = pinus insignis, Monterey pine.


[31] rue” = ‘Any of various southern European dwarf shrubs constituting the genus Ruta (family Rutaceae), esp. (more fully common or garden rue ) R. graveolens, which has yellow flowers and bitter, strongly scented feathery leaves, and was formerly much used for medicinal purposes.


[32] entablature” =’ Architecture. That part of an order which is above the column; including the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice.’  (OED)


[33] phares” = lighthouse light, beacon, synagogue lamp  (OED)

celsitude” = ‘Lofty position, high rank; dignity, eminence’  (OED)

clair-audient” = ‘The faculty of mentally perceiving sounds beyond the range of hearing,’ (OED)

allumes” = ‘Fr. ‘allumer’ to light up, switch on

Cf. Revelation 21.23 ‘And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof’



[34] out of the deep . . . De Profundis. Psalm 130.

kyrie eleison” Greek. ‘Lord have mercy’

Deus misereatur” Latin ‘ God have mercy’



[35] Daysman = ‘An arbitrator; a mediator’  (OED)


[36] decadent” = ‘falling away or declining (from a prior state of excellence, vitality, prosperity, etc.’  (OED)


[37] quire” – variant spelling of ‘choir’


[38] jetty” = ‘jet-black’

griseous” = ‘Grey; spec. in Zoology and Botany, bluish grey, pearl-grey’ (OED)



[39]lever de rideau” – French = ‘the curtain goes up’ e.g. at the start of a performance.


[40] accorded” = harmonious, reconciled

timeous” = timely, ‘Done or occurring sufficiently early or in good time; prompt; (Law) done before a fixed time limit has expired’  (OED)

prevent” = ‘To act before or more quickly than (a person or agent); to anticipate in action; to act in advance of’  (OED)



[41] adverting” = Latin ‘advertere to turn or direct towards, to direct (the senses) towards, to pay attention, to notice, to remark, ascertain, to attract the attention of, (with animum ) to direct the mind (towards), to pay attention (to)’  (OED)


[42]succession” = ‘The course, lapse, or process of time. Obs.  (OED)’

amplitude” = ‘Of things immaterial: width, breadth, fullness; copiousness, abundance’  (OED)



[43] obsequious” = ‘Compliant with the will or wishes of another, esp. a superior; prompt to serve, please, or follow directions; obedient; dutiful’  (OED)


[44] obscure” – noun; Chiefly poetical. ‘Obscurity, darkness; the ‘outer darkness’; an instance of this, a dark or obscure place or thing. Now rare’  (OED)

star-obsequious wizards’ eyes” = the Magi, obediently following the star.

strain” = ‘a series of musical phrases that create a distinct melody of a piece’ Wikipedia.

caravansery” = ‘A kind of inn in Eastern countries where caravans put up, being a large quadrangular building with a spacious court in the middle’  (OED)



[45] outspent” = “Completely spent; exhausted”  (OED)

night-initiate Spaniard ” = St. John of the Cross. Author of “The Dark Night of the Soul”


[46] [_“Mesopotamia ” -  a high country sheep station in the South Island of New Zealand _]


[47] Hath not eye seen . . . [_ ”- 1 Corinthians 2:9 ‘ ]Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.[’_]

Today with me . . . ” – Luke 23:43 ‘And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’

Aujourd’hui, avec moi, en paradis’ – quelle promptitude!

” Fr. “’Today, with me, in paradise’ what promptitude!, what company! what a place to stay!”



[48] umbrageous” – ‘Forming or affording shade; shady’  (OED)


[49] mechanic” = ‘Belonging to or characteristic of the lower part of the social scale or the lower classes; vulgar, coarse’  (OED) ‘now archaic and rare’


[50] Rosamund and her Purple Jar” = short story by Maria Edgeworth ‘The story is about a young girl, Rosamund, who needs a  new pair of shoes but is attracted to a purple jar which she sees displayed in a shop window. When her mother gives her the choice of spending her money on shoes or the jar, she chooses the purple jar. “You might be disappointed”, her mother cautions, adding that Rosamund will not be able to buy new shoes until the next month. When the girl gets home, she discovers that the jar was not purple but filled with dark liquid. She cries: “I didn’t want this black stuff!” Adding to her disappointment, her father refuses to take her out in public because she looks slovenly without good shoes.’

haere ki te moana” Maori. ‘go to the sea’

dear Wordsworth was more reasonable” – ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ William Wordsworth.

‘ . . [_. . those first affections,             _]

[_        Those shadowy recollections,  _]

[_      Which, be they what they may,  155_]

[_Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,       _]

[_Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;          _]

[_  Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make             _]

[_Our noisy years seem moments in the being _]

Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,         160

[_            To perish never:’_]

[_ _]

[_ “the great African bishop” – St. Augustine.] _Confessions ‘‘Too late have I sought thee, thou Beauty, so ancient and so new, too late have I sought thee.’


Ursula Bethell Collected Poems 1950

Mystical religious/landscape poet from New Zealand. Better than Gerard Manly Hopkins. Utterly unique, but slightly influenced by the Chinese poems of Arthur Waley. The most beautifully described garden in the English language. Fusion of intensely personal mystical and sensuous/emotional experience. Fascinated by words and their connotations. Anglican in temper, but very individual. Far more concerned with actual experience than with doctrine. Her poems repay many re-readings.Quietly humorous, but never cute - can spring breathtaking surprises.

  • Author: Tony Kingsbury
  • Published: 2015-10-21 04:05:38
  • Words: 25093
Ursula Bethell Collected Poems 1950 Ursula Bethell Collected Poems 1950