The waves that danced about the rock have gone,
The tide has stolen the rock as time has stolen
The quiet old lady who waited beneath the trees
That moved with a sad sea-sound in the summer wind.
When death was as near as the wind among the leaves,
Troubling the waking fear in the heart of the child
As the wind was troubling the shadows on the sunlit lawn
The grandmother seemed as frail as the frailest leaf.
But she sat so still in the shade of the summer trees
With the wind of death on her cheeks and her folded hands,
Her strength seemed large and cool, as the rock in the sea
Seemed large and cool in the green and restless waves.
As the rock remains in the sea, deep down and strong,
The rock-like strength of the lady beneath the trees
Remains in the mind of the child, more real than death,
To challenge the child’s strength in the hour of fear.
O’Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry . Wellington: Oxford University Press.
What do they see? Long human bones
Thrown out with an old jersey and trousers,
Lying a long time motionless in the hay.
These beautiful, gliding, immaculate birds
Are hopefully wondering if I am dead.