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Jessie Mackay

October in New Zealand

O JUNE has her diamonds, her diamonds of sheen,
Meet for a queen’s neck, if Death had e’er a queen!
June has her blue days, jewels of delight,
Set in the ivory of Alp-land white,—
But October, October’s the lady o’ the year!

O January’s garland is redder than the rose,
And the wine-red ruby of January glows
All the way to madness and half the way to sin,
When sleep is in the poppy and fire is in the whin!
But October, October’s the lady o’ the year!

October will ride in a mantle o’ the vair,
With the flower o’ the quince in her dew-wet hair;
October will ride to the gates of the day,
With the bluebells ringing on her maiden way;—
For October, October’s the lady o’ the year!

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Song of the Driftweed

HERE’S to the home that was never, never ours!
Toast it full and fairly when the winter lowers.
Speak ye low, my merry men, sitting at your ease;
Harken to the homeless Drift in the roaring seas!

Here’s to the life we shall never live on earth!
Cut for us awry, awry ages ere the birth.
Set the teeth and meet it well, wind upon the shore;
Like a lion, in the face look the Nevermore!

Here’s to the love we were never let to win!
What of that? a many shells have a pearl within;
Some are mated with the gold in the light of day;
Some are buried fathoms deep, in the seas away.

Here’s to the selves we shall never, never be!
We’re the drift of the world and the tangle of the sea.
It’s far beyond the Pleiad, it’s out beyond the sun
Where the rootless shall be rooted when the wander-year is done!

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Rona in the Moon

Rona, Rona, sister olden,-
Rona in the moon!
You'll never break your prison golden,-
Never, late or soon!

Rona, for her crying daughter,
At the dead of night
Took the gourd and went for water;
Went without a light.

There she heard the owlets wrangle
With an angry hoot;
Stick and stone and thorny tangle
Wounded Rona's foot.

'Boil the moon!' she said in passion;
'Boil your lazy head!
Hiding thus in idle fashion
In your starry bed!'

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A Folk Song

I came to your town, my love,
   And you were away, away!
I said "She is with the Queen's maidens:
   They tarry long at their play.
They are stringing her words like pearls
To throw to the dukes and earls."
   But O, the pity!
I had but a morn of windy red
To come to the town where you were bred,
   And you were away, away!

I came to your town, my love,
   And you were away, away!
I said, "She is with the mountain elves
   And misty and fair as they.
They are spinning a diamond net
To cover her curls of jet."
   But O, the pity!
I had but a noon of searing heat
To come to your town, my love, my sweet,

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Ortygia

IN Ortygia the Dawn land the old gods dwell,
And the silver’s yet a-quiver on the old wizard well
By the milk-white walls of the Temple of the Moon,
Where the Dawn Maids hallow the red gods’ tune,
And old grey Time is a nine-year child,
Back between the rivers ere man was ever ’guiled,
Or the knelling ‘Never, never!’ by the cherubim was rung.
It was there, there, there, in Ortygia the young,—
It was there, there, there, in the meadows of the sky
That first we went a-summering, my love of loves and I.
And well I wot the pleasaunce for them that thither go
Is litten with the beacons that the Dawn Maids know,
With their vigil at end in the Temple of the Moon,
And their prayer all prayer for the waked world’s boon.
The words they speak in that land are new as the dawn;
The rills that run in that land are diamond, drawn
From the old wizard well where the red gods croon.
And walk you in Ortygia or late or soon,
It is but lovers only that ever you will see;
For every silver wood-king’s a trysting tree,

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Dunedin in the Gloaming

Like a black, enamoured King whispered low the thunder
To the lights of Roslyn, terraced far asunder:
Hovered low the sister cloud in wild, warm wonder.

"O my love, Dunedin town, the only, the abiding!
Who can look undazzled up where the Norn is riding, --
Watch the sword of destiny from the scabbard gliding!

"Dark and rich and ringing true -- word and look for ever;
Taking to her woman heart all forlorn endeavour;
Heaven's sea about her feet, not the bounded river!"

"Sister of the mountain mist, and never to be holden
With the weary sophistries that dimmer eyes embolden, --
O the dark Dunedin town, shot with green and golden!"

Then a silver pioneer netted in the rift,
Leaning over Maori Hill, dreaming in the lift,
Dropped her starry memories through the passioned drift: --

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The Grey Company

O the grey, grey company
   Of the pallid dawn!
O the ghostly faces,
   Ashen-like and drawn!
The Lord's lone sentinels
   Dotted down the years,
The little grey company
   Before the pioneers.

Dreaming of Utopias
   Ere the time was ripe,
They awoke to scorning,
   The jeering and the strife.
Dreaming of millenniums
   In a world of wars,
They awoke to shudder
   At a flaming Mars.

Never was a Luther
   But a Huss was first --

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The Burial of Sir John Mackenzie

(1901)

They played him home to the House of Stones
   All the way, all the way,
To his grave in the sound of the winter sea:
   The sky was dour, the sky was gray.
They played him home with the chieftain's dirge,
Till the wail was wed to the rolling surge,
They played him home with a sorrowful will
To his grave at the foot of the Holy Hill
   And the pipes went mourning all the way.

Strong hands that had struck for right
   All the day, all the day,
Folded now in the dark of earth,
   Veiled dawn of the upper way!
Strong hands that struck with his
From days that were to the day that is
Carry him now from the house of woe
To ride the way the Chief must go:

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