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No. 28 (September 1959)
– 16 –

Verse by Modern Maori Poets

Two Poems by Rowley Habib


The Plea of a young writer

Take my hand and lead me through the thicket
To the mountain's crest, where the snow
Is pure. So my thoughts be like the snow
And below let me see the ocean and the open
Land caressed with mists of haziness
Azure and wide. Like the world before me
Ready to be drunken by these eyes
And more yet. Lay me back on the snows pure
Blanket of whiteness, my being forever
Conscious of your nearness. My nostrils
Full of the scent of you.
O take my hand. I am lost without
The hand of woman soft and full
Of tenderness. Ever yielding to the passion of my call
Take my hand for should an inspiration
Come I'll be like something flat and very dead

– 17 –

We were not so far apart you and I
When the thunder broke from the blackened sky
We were not so far apart
And when the echo rolled away
Deep down in the slanting day
We dreamed. Or when the lightning struck
Behind the drawn blind
Not I alone rushed heaven-wards
In the wake it left behind
No, we were not so far apart, we
When the waters rushed with mad glee
Down the garden path
Mine was not the only dream
Washed beyond the pantry window
Like some desire in a far off flooded stream

Three Poems by Hone Tuwhare


Tree earth and sky
Reel to the noontide beat
Of sun and the old man
Hobbling down the road.
Of sun-drowned cicada
In a child's voice shrilling:
…. are you going man
Where are you going man where
The old man is deaf
To the child.
His stick makes deep
Holes in the ground.
His eyes burn to a distant point
Where all roads converge ….
The child has left his toys
And hobbles after the old
Man calling: funny man funny man
Funny old man funny
Overhead the sun paces
And buds pop and flare.


Tree let your arms fall:
Raise them not starkly in supplication
To the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and
Resilience for this is no mere axe
To blunt, nor fire to smother.
Your sap shall not rise again
To the moon's pull
No more incline a deferential head
To the wind's talk or stir to the tickle
Of coursing rain.
Your former shagginess shall not be wreathed
With the delightful flight of birds
Nor shield
Nor cool the ardour of unheeding lovers
From the monstrous sun
Tree let your naked arms fall
Nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.
This is no gallant monsoon's flash—
No dashing trade wind's blast ….
The fading green of your magic
Emanations shall not make pure again
These polluted skies—for this
is no ordinary sun ….
O tree in the shadowless mountains
The white plains and
The drab sea floor
Thine end at last is written.


Gay Wind
Impudent lover of trees—
Why do you sing grey lamentations
To a shallow sky?
The headlands await your coming
and the mute crags lend a pensive ear
To the listless drag of the sea's feet.
Your muscles leap and tense
But will not free the wind held captive
In your branches.
Gay wind
Why do you sing grey lamentions
To a shallow sky?