new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

The Desolate Star And Other Poems

Mists in the City

The mists came drifting down the street,
With silken wings, with silent feet;
And suddenly, on Lambton Quay,
There fell a veil of ecstasy.
The passers-by, the weary folk,
Put on the blue, enchanted cloak;
Their hurried ways grew grave and wise,
The dreams were naked in their eyes.
The golden wings of lamplight’s lay
Quivering on a world of grey,
And crooked streets climbed up the hill
To waiting gardens, wet and still.
Against the lamplight’s little fires
A city made of climbing spires,
Of towers graven in amethyst,
Rose sharply from a sea of mist;
And twilight’s strange and azure dress 
Made magic out of ugliness,
Till one who looked could see the fine, 
Sharp etchings of a Hand divine —
As if God suddenly said to man, 
“See! You have laboured to my plan, 
With blind eyes, with stupid hands, 
Made beautiful my barren lands, 
And in a desert reft of flowers 
Have builded blue miraculous towers —
Almost as tall a mystery
As the least leaf on the least tree.
You built warped houses, crooked lanes,
That I might hang the stars in chains
About the city’s naked throat.
Blind hearts, I set you free to break
Your Arcady, that you might make
Chaos, a world where weary men
Should learn to love the stars again.
Now, with one touch, I wipe away
The childish error of your day,
And Beauty walks with shining feet
And shining eyes in every street.”

The mists came floating down the night 
With silken wings, with footsteps light. 
The weary folk, the weary men,
They walked and talked with dreams again;
And glory, in a shining sea
Of moonrise, lay on Lambton Quay.


Last updated 17 February, 2003