In Pember Bay: Papaitonga Lake

William Pember Reeves

Safe from the mountain tempest's wild alarms,
Safe from the driving sea-wild's bitter spray;
Placid, enfolded in the forest's arms
Lies Pember Bay.

Did some known lover in his fancy's youth
Name thee in accents musically slow,
Soft Papaitonga, "Beauty of the South"
Called Long ago?

Midway between the mountains and the deep;
Secure from upland cold, from salt winds keen,
Bathed in sweet air and sunshine, thou dost keep
A golden mean.

Dark clouds may brood on yonder peaks and spurs,
Chill winds may chase the sea foam, flake on flake.
But here is peace. Nought ruffles, nothing stirs the tranquil lake.

Nought shakes the ferns, whose interlacing fronds,
Like sea-birds' wings uplift their giant pinions;
Nought stirs the brakes, whose creepers' myriad bonds
Guard green dominions.

Look, while the sunset clings to yonder range.
Look, while the lake gleams silver in its ray;
And pray that though all beauty else may change,
This scene may stay.

Here the wild birds from ancient coverts pressed,
May seek asylum by this silent mere;
And though no other glade or wave give rest,
May find it here.

Though in an hour the forest fire ends all
That nature can in patient ages build,
Though through the land the straight tall trees must fall,
The birds be stilled,

Yet in this sacred wood no axe shall ring,
These winding shores will sanctuary give,
Where in cool thickets happy birds may sing
And verdure live.

Still for the singers be thy tree-girt edge
And isle leaf-canopied a shrine secure,
Still for the swimmers be they fringing sedge
A refuge sure.

Long, Papaitonga, may thy ferns grow fair,
Thy graceful toe-toe droop and sway,
And never tree or bird know scathe or scare
By Pember Bay.

Thes sedge is still there on Lake Papaitonga, which is still a peaceful and beautiful spot on New Zealand's coastal plain. It is a dune lake and is still surrounded by rare dune forest.

In this poem, Reeves reveals something of Keats, evoking the natural beauty of the Odes "To A Nightingale" and "To Psyche", and reminiscent of La Belle Dame Sans Merci.