Bond” 19 texts in manuscript and typescript
February 1937 Hyde spent three weeks at Whangaroa Harbour in Northland,
living in a shack on Fish Factory Point and typing the final draft of
The Godwits Fly. It was a highly productive time. She also drafted
a number of poems which reflect her preoccupation with a dazzling, immanent
landscape and its inhabitants. Many of the poems, including the first
30 pages of The Book of Nadath, were written on pad paper watermarked
Exquisite Bond. Three poems (“Sand,” “The Last Ones” and “Descendants”)
were later typed and given to her psychiatrist, Dr G M Tothill. In this
section, the Exquisite drafts and fragments from Whangaroa, plus a number
of other poems that lead out into the writing of 1937, demonstrate Hyde’s
creative energies at a point of origin. Some of the material is discussed
in the introduction to The Book of Nadath (Auckland UP, 1999).
Here by the hand of fate, Beyond the last fall of land Lie shapen the high-arched delicate Ribs of the sand. Clear as the ribs of a vessel By one wave’s anger undone, Over them white gulls wrestle, Into them sears the sun.
Childless white body, that gives Token of flowers nor of fruit, Save the paraha vine, who lives With thirst for a root; Who shall make bold with the sand, His foot on these glistening crests? He who is held by no hand, Who is weary of lips and breasts.
He shall lie in the lap of the sand, Head thrown back on her knee. With her hands seeping into his hand — Each grain was an argosy. Hot and strange is her cup, Strange is her love Not when the foam wells up Shall he murmur or move.
AU 564 Ms of “Sand.” Exquisite Bond. Another ts is annotated “Spirits Bay.”
Clasp me about the knees, white gods beneath Reinga! Sullen gods and aloof, long left to your brooding, Yea, if the word be for wrath, think now of the pakeha
vessels, The young stubborn smokes beneath old altars exuding! Stretch out the arms of your strength, and call the young
waves like chieftains
That dash their white plumes of pleasure far out to sea.
Yet this that was given in an hour shall not in a life be taken — I have known in an hour the dream and the song I was meant
Black horse, with the mane flicking his wind-clipped side, And the parrakeets of a sunset, the pools in the mangroves
red, But at last (in the ti-tree lying,) five stars of ominous
pride Held in their crucifix by the dark hands overhead. And the bearded lips of the hill whispered, against my
AU 598 Untitled ms. Exquisite Bond.
The black horse switched his tail; along his flanks Wind tapered in a restless stream, Turned, he Loveisyouroverwhelming theme.
Indian corn Old Maria’s rich barbaric maize Was a wand once, in Montezuma’s house.
AU 580, p. 3 verso. Ms fragments of “The Last Ones,” “Descendants” and “Whangaroa Harbour.” Exquisite Bond.
But the last black horse of all Stood munching the green-bud wind, And the last of the raupo huts Let down its light behind. Sullen and shadow-clipped He tugged at the evening star, New-mown silver swished like straw Across the manuka.
As for the hut it said No word but its meagre light, Its people slept as the dead Bedded in Maori night. “And there is the world’s last door, And the last world’s horse,” sang the wind, “With little enough before, And what you have seen behind.”
ACL 412 Ts at rear of 1934 Autobiography. Another AU ts is annotated “Spirits Bay 1937.”
Somewhere behind her sliding wooden window
Old Kahu pads about, scrapes off the plates That did for starvelings’ supper, turns down low Wick of a battered lantern, contemplates Ten children, cuddled in a threadbare rug; (Small dreams and puppy nakedness beneath); Watches the golden light crawl off a bug, Then grins her endless smile of broken teeth, Dreaming again of last month’s picture-show.
The yellow corn-cobs from her sulky garden Shine up, barbaric wands with topaz set; Arrogant as the armlets of a dream, Gleam on a platter, soiled and silver-wet, Three fish she caught with that old mended net. But brighter, watching days without surmise, With calm beyond the goad-man’s praise or pardon, The immemorial blaze of chieftain eyes, She need not call to memory, or forget.
ACL 412 Ts at rear of 1934 Autobiography.
Not broken yet, this mirror of the morning, The heart-shaped polished nephrite of the sea. Oh, mirror of mornigs, shield of steely twilights! Cannot your look assuage and counsel me?
Never a green life shirring in the thickets But knows some keyword, that its life is spent, Death-dogged and secret, and a flash of wings, But not perverse; not wholly malcontent.
And Pani holds aloft the beaded maize, And tilts her jewelled basket of the moon For all but him whose hopes ride out too far On great white horses, in a nameless noon.
Shall none behold thee but the goddess daughters Who look again and see themselves new-fair, And burn across the skies, and light a morning With the heavy candelabra of their hair?
AU 565 Ms of “Whangaroa Harbour.” Exquisite Bond. There is an AU ts annotated “Whangaroa 1937.”
sweet poets – masters of mosaic,
Your gods stand rooted — Apollo Never done with the lyre, white Venus, lusty Mars, Each with fixed faces; But Lanis knows the gods in different guise — Lanis knows gods that take the trees for tresses, And with wide nostrils, snuffing on the wind The tang of lust or fear – stumbling, unused To movement, grasping mighty thoughts for clubs, Lanis knows gods gone hunting in the dark —
Show me a god, you show me larger male, Immortal gusto,
And all the gods that swim up through the shallows —
AU 609 Ms fragment of “The Temple Sweeper.”
Sweet poets, servants free of that divine And grotto’d utterance, hearkeners to the choice Many-pearled wisdoms of the echoed voice You still re-echo — what a task is thine! Fitly to seek the god, sagely to hear His oracle — and, with the cultured ease Of balanced hearts enriched by centuries, At times to make his thoughts a thought more clear.
Lords of the whole mosaic — how you fit Gem into gem, lost contours round-expressed As the smooth curving of a woman's breast — Lapis by jade, vermeil by turquoise bit! What’s strange to you?
AU 604 Ms fragment. Exquisite Bond.
If you have meant the land-locked fires burning
Out of those upward palms the cups of me, Or the redder fires that fell, the downward-turning Hair of pohutukawa tree; Both fires were quick : but mine struck out by blunder
— Old flint of mind on sick heart’s yearning. But one a fire that grows and gleams, a wild wonder. Mine the wit : tree’s the learning.
Anyhow though you spoil a line for me, Sarin, you loved the tree.
AU 566 Ms of “To Sarin, Who Drew a Tree and a Woman.”
Spirit, spirit, come feed from my hand: Be not so trembling, so anxious to fly. At least I can school you to understand What bean climbs up to the sky from our land: (And the hungry cat, our foeman, prowls nigh.) Taste I your white grains brushed together You,my wisdom out of the weather — We could be brothers, you and I.
Understand! Understand! When the sea is vile with the oil from a ship, On draggled wings that beat and slip The spent tern sinks to die. And the way of forcing our truth to lie Was, squeeze it tight in your hard hot hand. (The stranger swore he would understand, You left no space that we sing or fly.) So of all men perilous, all men curst, I hate my powerful neighbour the worst: He holds me sweating, here in Hand, And watches me with an Eye.
AU 499.2 Ts annotated “Whangaroa Harbour.”
Learn the strength of the old song And learn that it is no more: Learn in the dusk, singer, Out of quiet’s door, How love comes like a hind, Not for thy weighty reasons, But because of a white dew underfoot And a grass that tells the seasons. When she is gone away, Cast about and call, No spoor of pollen leads down the dark, No fallen flower at all.
An ill place to quarrel, sweet, Here in the reach Of the great glass waves, shattering Clear on the beach. Here, where I touch your arm, (Between our words,) It is scarce more in substance Than the light-boned birds; As a small boat’s mast It is little and thin; All things seem frail; swept By the hoarse combers in;
AU 599 Untitled ms, second stanza a draft for “Sisters.”
In a dream not long sped, I stood on the sands, in the glassy-shattering reach of
the waves, Quarrelling with my sister, And caught her arm, as in their first furious childish
quarrel Cain caught at Abel’s sleeve. Then I felt how thin her wrist was — thin as a young child’s
wrist, Hardly more than the bones of the snowy alighting birds, Or the mast of a boy’s blue boat; So slight the garment of flesh, thin the bone beneath, Evanescent her young mortality. But before I could see her eyes or speak her name, The wave broke, covering all, Brightening, enlarging the rock-pools.
AU 515 Ts.
Dreaming I knew the vigil years were gone, Thawed like snow in moonlight, spent like spring’s white
clover; Yet I remembered not whose lips lay late upon My eyes, nor felt the dark disturbed by my lover — He that had been and passed, and broken seals Of the locked sense, spilling with sweet my hour, Was ghostly as the dusk that of a longing healed Binds close the golden thread of pollen in the flower.
AU 597 Untitled ms. Exquisite Bond.
Writing unsteadily, without hope of a word enduring, I think how others, the great ones, were in like case — Old Swift crying out for Stella. Past cause or curing For Shelley, the lonely flame of Mary Godwin’s face,
Shakespeare musing on winged brows dark and scornful, Holy in pride of flesh as his sonnet’s pride, And ever in Byron’s thought, alert and mournful The unforgotten eyes of the sister bride.
AU 602 Untitled ms. Exquisite Bond.
But in the dream, We had come through fear and famine, blood and filth, And were after a long time re-united, Around us the lamp shed its cold blossom spilth, And we sat in the peasant’s hut benighted. Happy, I rested my head against your knee, And said, “I will bear you all the sons you wish.” There was a platter of blue upon the hearth, With a meal of bread and little broken fish.
AU 603 Unititled ms of “The Miracle of Abundance.” Exquisite
My tears I think are not as women’s tears Raining down fierce and sharp from the womb of sorrow, Till the woman cries out, and so her child Ease is born: Nor a light play of the fountains of light grief Some women wear their tears like strings of pearls About their necks; some like an old worn rosary Secretly fumbled at night, rubbed smooth with woe: And in some the hard tears freeze to burning crystal — Such women’s eyes will stab you all life long. Yet in tears God knows there is peace and plentitude, Ripe flowers spring from a dust much bruised by rain, Yet I, who have wept before you, Wear not my tears for an ease or an adornment. If there be after-flowers, I gather them not.
Look upwards: see the strange mountains of what-I-know-not Slope from the human mind, like the sharp-back profiles Of native ancestors lost with the smoke of their tents. if beyond that farthest peak, that rock where the sun smites
glittering-sandalled, They dwell and are placid, who can say,
Or if my tears are the rain of their heavy pastures? Sometimes, in the night, wandering a little, disconsolately From the clutch of what I know,
With the sweet-faced moon beside me, a blind boy guide,
I have thought to trace in my own dust, flesh-dust, slender footprints,
AU 594 Partial ms of “The Nomads.”
There is a ts annotated “Titirangi 1937,” which is the
title of the poem as it appears in Houses.
And yet without me, oh God, how will you find life?
And not only through the articulate, but through all, woman and beast,
bird and plant, who suffer the growth and bear the pangs. Then because
I am necessary — unless you want the crystal desolation of a world with
nothing but sands and tides, and that indeed I could well understand —
do not let me be disgraced. Man cannot be so great, since I by whiles
confine him in my womb. . . . And Lanis knows the gods in different
guise; Lanis knows gods who take great trees for staves, the boulders
for their laughter, streams for cloaks; Lanis knows gods gone hunting
That's part of a poem I wrote
once, but didn’t finish.
This grass was not too slight for you To carve its jade flutes slim and true; And every lucent leaf that stirs Silently from thy ministers (Sunlight and dew and soft-haired rain) Draws beauty through each shining vein. Ah, let such life unceasingly Ripen to steadfast growth in me; And let thy tall and standing grain Be bountiful in me again.
Home 38-39. Poem unidentified.
More than established now: stilled and enabled, Passing beneath the naked osier tree, To know the fine red whips, the one bird halted; Look on them, like last look; and let them be.
This was the peace: past understanding, said they, But not past flowing through the large hands human. As the tide quickens; as the entering man Comes to break bread and firelight with the woman.
Old lanterns flamed it, high from smoky throats, The river spread it, spittle through the arches Where blind men clung. But clear today it floats On the road between the seaward-looking larches.
The guest is gone: then now the buds of gorse, Rough honeyed rafts, drift up the senses’ river, Seen but set free, partaken and with-held, And in this dream to last this day, Forever.
Shield them their secrets: when the earth is stripped She takes her god for mirror, he his land. Come not against the clear trees, covetous-lipped: On a hill’s curve never tighten, hand.
So merry and so still the two sails lean Against the shadow of an island’s side. One out of me throws off his clouts unclean, Runs, and grows far in tide.
AU 576 Ms of “The Seaward Road.”
Be very quiet, young earth; be on your guard, Lest a sudden colour or cry break through her ease. Remember what spells he taught her underground — The rocky petals, music of little sound, And the loose-haired rivers shaken about her knees. Softly with delicate hues and a faint scent woo her, Hang on her throat white bells of your flowers first-found. Later the burning flagons, the rose and anemones — But remember, eyes darker than dream, lips colder, pursue
Send her asquires, the flowers with the harsh green tlps, Spiked arums, surcoated boys with their banners furled; Hailstorm of snowdrops; the clematis’ quiet lips . . .
. . (Green was the flickering light of the underworld, Green his last caverns. that watched her swaying. half-falllng) Gently begin the talk of your delicate lutes, Of birds new-wakened, a sharpening cry in her brain. Let her glance down at her palms; behold again The small blanched kiss of a sunbeam; and calling, calling, One bird, an oboe behind the thronging flutes, Gather her scattered beads on his fine-drawn chain.
Little by little, let her guess lamb from cloud, (Both being tender;) let the great shapes of trees Spell out in patient letters her news of spring. Let the thin mayflies court her, before the bees Dapple the foxgloves with burring song and loud. Let her remember slowly; the faint smile cling To her lips, the remembered odours quiver and pass. Not till his footprint melts from the frosty grass Bring her the flagons, the rose and anemones.