The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 5 (September 1, 1933)
New Zealand verse
New Zealand verse
Hear the song of the train,
And its simple refrain,
Over, and over, and over again,
The passenger, deep in the soft window seat
Is drowsily nodding his head to the beat;
While others are sitting and talking at ease,
Reading or sewing whatever they please;
But I am intent on the quick-changing view
And thrilled to the marrow with pastures anew.
How the meadows flash by,
And are lost to the eye,
We're over a river, and still high and dry.
On, onward and on,
The river has gone,
The trees vanish quickly, and ever anon
The kiddies, excited, wave hands in delight;
Animals, startled, rear off in affright,
And are whisked out of sight.
How swiftly, how surely, we cover the ground,
How high the embankments rise up all around,
We're under a mountain and still safe and sound.
Three cheers for the train,
With its simple refrain,
Over, and over, and over again.
Now daylight once more,
With the ocean before,
We glide like a snake round the sandy sea shore.
The sea, oh! the sea,
So boundless and free,
Where kiddies like sunbeams leap round in their glee;
Where white seagulls cry,
And whirl in the sky.
All gone—we are climbing—how swiftly we fly
Our mighty iron dragon is climbing the hills,
And out of its nostrils the red fire spills,
And piercingly, clearly, its raucous voice shrills.
Slow, slower, and slow,
Slow, slower, and slow,
Hurrah for the ocean extending below;
We've stopped—at our station.
New Zealand! Land of loveliness,
Where light and shade unite,
In tapestries of vernal grace
And rare delight!
Thy fern-clad gorges whisper low,
Secrets gleaned of the years;
Crooning the lilt of laughter gay,
The sob of tears!
By night, the silver moon transcends,
To watch the mist-wraiths creep—
Grey tides that lave proud Egmont's feet
In seas of sleep!
The evening star stoops low to rest,
Mirrored within thy lakes—
Where umber shadows waiting lie
Till dawn awakes
To fling the tui's mellow notes,
Athwart a woodland dim,
Responsive to the bell-bird's flute,
In matin hymn.
All laud to Him, who blessed thee
With beauty's endless calm,
Of gorge and stream, of spangled glade,
Of glen and meadow, flower sprayed,
Where golden sunbeams gem the shade,
'Neath nikau palm!
* * *
I saw a blackbird in a tree
With shining coat of ebony,
Rounded throat for a joy in throbbing.
Yellow bill for a joy in robbing,
Roving eye for a garden's treasure
Of luscious fruits for his greedy pleasure.
I saw a blackbird in a tree,
It flew into the heart of me,
And robber bold though it may be,
I only knew an ecstasy.
Taupo, edged with living gold of dancing kowhai flow'rs,
(But you and I, my dear, not there to see),
In dreaming autumn turns to tint of mellow poplar tow'rs
That float their yellow drifting leaves upon its singing sea.
Did you know a yellow flow'r had fallen on your hair,
And there are miles of rod and golden broom?
The swinging, windblown scent of it is more than I can bear,
And kissing's out of fashion when the gorse is out of bloom.
Have you seen the golden gorse run down towards the sand?
(Tie your sandshoes on your bare brown feet,
Don your bluest linen gown and give me your warm hand),
Can't you smell the yellow flow'rs that ripen in the heat?
Did you know a golden bloom had brushed across your mouth
The more its clinging sweetness to perfume?
That gold and yellow sunset floods across from west to south,
And—kissing's out of fashion when the gorse is out of bloom?
* * *
The gods were in their strangest mood
When, out of Ocean's twisted mud,
By laboured shake and shock so rude,
All racked and torn, built up, undone,
Bewildered, quiv'ring whilst the sun
Shone red through wild Pacific scud,
They raised thee, Aotea-roa.
While Beauty drove across lone seas
By messengers of wave and wing,
Brave seeds to rise in forest trees;
And strange came their report to Her,
How all the bush grew mightier,
And ferns arose in offering
Of praise, in Aotea-roa.
So colour cried: “The land is green.
Pohutukawa, Rata, flower
Ye red as red has never been;
Let Clematis the Veiler know,
The South Wind drapes in virgin snow
Of white more white than her own shower,
Thy mountains, Aotea-roa.”
“Let Raupo ring her black lagoons
And Kowhai fringe her highland streams;
Let mosses cling in wild festoons
Of red, brown, gold and purple hue
On trees that rake the Southern blue;
O make her lakes and oceans dreams
Unknown from Aotea-roa.”
And Echo gave his sweetest words;
The Miro and the Rimu caught
Each note and fashioned them in birds
Of fluted voice and twilight cry,
And thus arose the revelry
Of song her feathered bells have taught
The glens of Aotea-roa.
Then clouds drew flame along the West,
And Night came starred to hold her sway,
The South Sea Cross upon her breast;
And Moa bird and Kiwi stalked,
And Maori maid with Toa walked,
While over all the land there lay
The Sign of Aotea-roa.
O Land of green-eternal shade,
O Land of myth and mystery,
The gods were lavish when they made
These mountains wrapped in sparkling ice,
Those alps a nearer paradise.
Of Long White Clouds and gave to thee
Thy name, Te Aotea-roa.
* * *
In a valley, deep, secluded,
Where the guarding cliffs tower high,
Glows a fairyland of colour,
As bright autumn days glide by.
Graceful elms and basket willows
Vie with poplars straight and tall,
Filling that fair glade with splendour,
Vivid, gleaming, golden all.
There a placid, dreaming river
Wanders idly to the sea;
There the whispering, crooning breezes
Gently shake each painted tree,
Till the leaves fall down in showers,
Carpeting the ground with gold;
Making there a magic picture,
Gorgeous, wondrous to behold.
* * *
Sweet Harbinger of Spring,
Liquid as magic bell,
On winter's air,
How comes it then
So slight a thing,
So small a throat
As thine can mould
A sound so fair,
To thrill and hold
The hearts of men?
Thou who but told
A flutt'ring mate
To, list'ning, wait—
That all is well—
“Spring comes again!”