Dunedin in the Gloaming

Jessie Mackay

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 drift,
Leaning over Maori Hill, dreaming in the lift,
Dropped her starry memories through the passioned drift.

‘Once I do remember them, the glory and the garden,
Ere the elder stars had learned God’s mystery of pardon;
Ere the youngest, I myself, had seen the flaming warden.

‘Once even after even I stole over shy and early
To mirror me within a glade of Eden cool and pearly,
Where shy and cold and holy ran a torrent sought but rarely.

‘And fondly could I swear that this my glade had risen newly,—
Burst the burning desert tomb wherein she lieth truly
To keep an Easter with the birds and me who loved her duly!’

Wailing, laughing, loving, hoar, spake the lordly ocean;— 25
‘You are sheen and steadfastness; I am sheen and motion,
Gulfing argosies for whim, navies for a notion.

‘Sleep you well, Dunedin town, though loud the lulling lyre is;
Lady of the stars terrene, where quick the human fire is,—
Lady of the Maori pines, the turrets and the eyries!’

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