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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 3 (June 1, 1940)

New Zealand — Verse

page 41

New Zealand

“Sending ‘Em Off.”

There are hundreds in the station,
there are thousands in the street,
And they're listening for the pipers,
for the sound of marching feet.
The old soldiers on the platform find
their thoughts all gone astray
From their placid bourgeois present to
the time they spent away,
And the rumble of a trolley sounds
like sabots which you meet
Where the wagons bear the caption,
“Hommes quarante ou chevaux.

The battalion clears a corner and the
cheering runs ahead
Like a bow-wave's throaty surging in
a harbour calm and dead:
And we're standing on the platform,
watching others take our place,
Mere crocks with racing-plates knocked off—too old to win a race.
Yet we, too, have had our moments—
partings tearful, pledges sweet,
By the wagons that were labelled,
“Hommes quarante ou chevaux

But the R.T.O. comes cursing, he's a
busy man to-day,
There's a whistle and a rippling jolt,
a cheer—and they're away;
And the wife is waiting somewhere,
and we've got to mow the lawn,
While the aspidistra's languishing, unwatered, dry, forlorn.
Yes, we know the war is rotten, yet
we'd give our souls to greet
Mates of old and read the slogan,
“Hommes quarante ou chevaux

* * *

Nature's Dwelling.

Drooping rimu, stately matai,
Crimson rata, dainty kowhai,
Form the roof of Nature's dwelling,
Where the streams their songs are swelling,
Dashing on through strife and peace.
Koromiko, young manuka,
Matagouri and kapuka,
Are the walls of Nature's dwelling,
Where the streams their songs are swelling,
Foaming on till time shall cease.

Supplejack and white clematis
And the lawyer named Australis,
Form the curtains of this dwelling,
Where the streams their songs are swelling,
Babbling on beneath the trees.

Filmy ferns and logs all moss'd,
Creepers trailing till they're lost
Are the carpet of this dwelling,
Where the streams their songs are swelling,
Rushing onward to the seas.

* * *


The wind from Ruapehu brings the night,
And like the candles at an altar high
The slow stars blossom on the up-flung sky,
And down the cloudy slopes, and up across the height.
The wind from Ruapehu brings the night;
The slim wind on the evening city blows;
Below the hills, the dewy lights agleam
Merge lawns and houses in a haunting dream.
Where unaware the silver shades with rose.
The wind from Ruapehu dimly goes.
The cool wind leaves the yellow grasses bright.
“This is the night.” The whispered shades increase,
The sky is full. “This is the hour of peace….”
The guttering stars have flickered in their light;
The wind from Ruapehu brings the night.

To Dorothy Donaldson.

(In Memoriam).

In every little, lovely growing thing
A tribute lies,
To one whose life was early shadowed by
The greyest skies.
Who knew each smallest flower, each stately tree,
And gloried in the world she could not see.

She put her rosy hopes and shattered dreams
Quietly away,
And strove with gallant heart to find the best
In every day.
And striving, turned her darkened clouds about,
To wear their silver lining inside-out.

She loved each shade of Nature, though her day
Was ever night,
Found joy, remembering small things that we
Take as our right.
And in her store of jewelled memory,
She strung her lovely thoughts upon a rosary.
Then, when her world of sound and music lay
A shattered thing,
And never more the feathered choir she loved
Could softly bring
The voice of bush and sunshine, sweetly blent,
She built her Silent World of brave content.

In realms of light her gallant spirit now
Is ever free.
To us, and to this land she loved so well,
And could not see,
Her bright philosophy and simple creed
She left, to make a better world indeed.