new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

Aria with Insects
The noise of insects is so fine,
Insects have fiddles tuned so well
Without dispute my sense can pass
Among their orchestrated grass,
Or, lying shored in dreamland, tell
Whether a dawn be arable
With deep, soft fields, meet to be ploughed
By wind, and yield the stookèd sun
And yellow wreaths of tasselled cloud,
Or if the volleying rain will fall
Sluiceless from heaven, and spoil us all —
Their jackets green, my kirtle-grace,
And proud straws stiff around my face.
Beholding to their prophecies
I greet their shrill and shining cries —
Black cricket’s cheep; brass instrument
That is my learned cicada’s bent;
Merry and fierce beyond belief
His symphony below the leaf.
Soon the fine fraction horns are blowing,
Soon fife and drum lend pulse to summer,
But stronger than the little drummer
This crystal quiet round us growing,
Which they may ring, but never pierce
With the tuned salute and fierce.
So raindrops, that may choose to round
Upon a leaf, and roll in space,
Have each his complement of sound
To live by; so the sea has grace
Blue and afar, to channel dreams,
To send soft echoes navigable
For the thistle-keel that gleams
Moored by isles of parable,
A blue note washing through the fern
And tidal in the manuka.
So my morning thoughts in turn
Like raindrops round, like oceans swell,
Nautilus navies on their breast,
Or, seizing fiddles, strive to learn
The proper wooing of that star
Pale o’er the fields she beamed upon,
Yet so reluctant to be gone
While loving day would hold her guest.
All nature, linked but not confused,
All strength of voices, vast or weak,
Soft as air is on my cheek,
The bows of rageless viols loosed.
None interrupts or insults here —
Each being’s corporate with the care
How his full meaning may be used,
Nor, in the diapasoned earth,
A moment lost, a moment marred.

O choir, enchant me from this Hell
Where living men frenetic dwell —
Where each, the slave of a sick birth,
Shouts for honour, shrieks for mirth,
And loves so every sense is jarred.
Their voices strangle, and not twine —
But insect voices are so fine.


Last updated 24 September, 2003