(For W.)

Tall where trains draw up to rest, the gum-trees
Sift an off-sea wind, arching
Rippled cornland and the startling far blue waves.
Westward the shapeless low hills are forced
Here by a twisting amber stream,
Still in one pool under the corner willows
And crossed by the stone bridge beside the mill.

Knowledge ends thus with the traveller's glimpse;
But there imagination wakes
Vivid with an alternative creation
But near-related, complementary,
Later attainable; and flashing
Unknown visions of the known,
Rivals that time's tenderness shall reconcile.

And so, pensive in the still train, I follow
Your footsteps on the flying tussock
And through the dry manuka thickets,
And feel your heart warm to the hilltop winds
Won by sea-tales and a mild despair;
With you pierce the underbrow caves, forcing
......the creepers,
And rest in the grey untouched light, listening,
Hearing the fall of years
Soft and swift as the fall of leaves,
One-voiced and even as over stones the stream.
Then into time I follow, as you ride,
Circling at your shoulder or far
Watching your path through seasons, lives,
Or singly, or by dark-
Watch, but nothing here of you
Speaks the inexpressive face,
The rough skin of your country.
............................................Only the thorn
Alone on the parched rise, inhuman matagauri
Dry-green and fibrous, sorrowing,
The gum-trees that offer their flower, their sweet
Lightly to the bright and dangerous wind,
These are eloquent
Here at the entrance to your country stir
Among the falling years that drift my eyes;
Until the recollected train
Moves on, past the landmarks, past the fallen years,
The passing land, the lives.

Charles Brasch

©Reproduced with the kind permission of
The Estate of Charles Brasch

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