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;-
‘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!’