new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

The Song of Lost Causes
Give us a Stuart to fight for again,
A King and a fool once more —
We needn’t have hoarded our hearts in vain,
Could we spend them like steel in the splintering rain,
Dirk against dirk and brain against brain —
We never got home from Culloden Moor.
Give us the King that is outcast and poor.

Whisper the word that our whaups echoed, when
A King might be looking for claymores or men.

Mary the Queen is betrayed and gone
From her dancing at Holyrood —
Preacher John Knox, he told us no good
Would come of the bright, wild tresses that shone
Under the green of her hunting-hood;
But a smile from her lips — we’d have understood,
Have hacked the Englishmen sinew from bone.

Holyrood’s quiet. Her four Maries,
Her lissome ladies, are keeping the keys.

Give us the smoking skies of Glencoe,
A death and a song to remember.
This is the way of us, loving too slow,
Losing the flame and loving the ember.
Purple and russet our glens through November
Burn like the beacons our hearts would know.
Faith and Beauty are things to remember . . .

Give us the yellow-haired laddie again,
Swart staunch chieftains, a horn in the glen.


Last updated 24 September, 2003