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Delight the sight of fanning fern
Passive pose and knows we look
When each form looms
Amid the nature bush, a lush alluring sight
Down dales sprawling
Up vale calling to the wind
Nostalgic north perpetuates my awe
With a desire to see you more, proud ponga!


File:Cyathea dealbata 1.jpg

Photo by Sean Hamlin from Wellington, New Zealand, courtesy of wikimedia commons


Well, my mother passed away a month ago, so everything is a bit weird and I find myself surrounded by Mother’s Day advertising.  Here then is one of her poems, posted in her memory, for Mother’s Day. It’s from her book of paintings and poems, called Heart and Soul (Bellingham Daniels Publishing, in association with Steele Roberts Ltd).  It should really have been Bellingham Danielson Publishing – Bellingham is the surname of my great great grandfather (Albert Bellingham) on my mother’s father’s side and Danielson is from my mother’s mother’s grandfather (Samual Danielson), who was from Norway. However, when my mother asked me what my great great grandfather’s surname was, I said I thought it might be Daniels and only realised later I’d forgotten a bit.

Several people have asked me why my mother and I spell our surnames differently – she changed the spelling of her name after she divorced my father, replacing an ‘e’ with an ‘i’.

This is us in the sixties. At that time, we were living with my grandparents and had the surname Paine. It’s complicated.

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A poem must be painstakingly constructed, each word lined up alongside the next and tapped into place; line upon line stacked up.  A poem must have robust foundations, something sturdy behind its façade.  A poem may be a house to dwell in comfortably, a grand exhibition hall in which to marvel, a memorial chamber, a ballroom.

Just as a male Adelie penguin must select exactly the right pebble for his  beloved – the size, shape, colour and weight that will convince her of his worthiness, so must you select the poem that is exactly right for you.  It may take a lifetime of effort, but oh! think of the joy it will bring!

Photo credit: es0teric/Creative Commons

(OK, this pebble business is something of a myth, although pebbles are definitely prized at nesting time.  For the whole scandalous sex-for-pebbles exposé, read this.)

Happy Poetry Day!  Here’s a poem I wrote after Rhian Gallagher’s excellent reading at Massey University last July.

The Lift
(for Anna Jackson)


it had been one of those days
that was part of one of those weeks, those months
where people seemed angry
& I felt like the last runner in the relay race
taking the blame for not getting the baton
over the finish line fast enough
everyone scolding
I was worn down by it, diminished
& to top it off, the bus sailed past without seeing me
and I was late for the reading, another failure

so when Anna offered me a lift home
I could have cried
because it was the first nice thing
that had happened that day
so much bigger than a ride in a car
it was all about standing alone
in a big grey city
and somebody suddenly
handing you marigolds


There are poetry events all around the country for National Poetry Day and if you’re in Whanganui tomorrow, it would be great to see you at the Sarjeant.

Tuesday Poem – Cactus by Janis Freegard

I’ve uploaded a video of me reading my poem Cactus on to my Blogger blog.  Cactus was  published in Landfall last year. You can check out the other Tuesday poems by clicking on the quill to the left.

Hine e Hine

By Princess Te Rangi Pai (Fanny Howie)

E tangi ana koe
Hine, E Hine
Kua ngenge ana koe
Hine, E Hine
Kati to pouri ra
Noho i te Aroha
Te ngakau o te Matua
Hine, E Hine

E hari to moe moea
Hine, E Hine
Marama ahua
Hine, E Hine
I roto i to moenga
Mehemea he Marama
Ka tae mai te Reinga
Hine, E Hine


English translation of first verse

You are weeping
Little girl, darling girl
you are weary
Little girl, darling girl

Be sad no longer
There is love for you
in the heart of the Father
Little girl, darling girl

…and an alternative translation

Plaintive all through the night –
Hine, E Hine!
Weeping till morning light –
Hine, E Hine!
From my care why try to leap
There is love for you
Mother’s arms their strength will keep
Hine, E Hine!

See where there comes the morn
Hine, E Hine!
Long rays of early dawn
Hine, E Hine!
Shining to Reinga far
Where thy noble grandsires are
Nestle Aroha!
Hine, E Hine!

Seeing as it’s Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) as well as National Poetry Day, I have chosen a waiata (song) for my poem today.  It’s generally described as a lullaby, although I have also seen it described as a father’s lament for the loss of his daughter.  It was written by Fanny Rose Porter (Poata) – married name Fannie Howie – who was best known by her stage name, Te Rangi Pai or Princess Te Rangi Pai.  It is thought to have been written around 1928. The waiata will be best known to New Zealanders as the “Goodnight Kiwi” song, from the days when the end of television for the evening was announced by a cartoon kiwi and cat curling up together in a TV transmitter tower. 

More about Princess Te Rangi here:

and here

 Happy Poetry Day!

and you can hear Hayley Westenra singing it here:

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