new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

The Karaka Trees
Under the roof of the karaka trees,
The firm green thatch of leaves,
No wind wanders, nor sound, nor restless light
Flits like an amber bird among the boughs,
No star walks, a pilgrim secure and pale,
Through the dark house of the karaka trees.
Seawards, the woods have windows. Far away
On the unending blue ripples are born,
Grow and clamour as waves, break, and are hushed
Before the hush of the karaka trees.
Yet through these windows — painted blue with sky,
Pearl-white with foam, green with the living grass —
Faces look out. Deep eyes unmoving watch
The world beyond the warden of the trees.
There are towers, and none shall find them. There is night
Black as a velvet pall, and none shall say
What laughter and what loveliness lie dead,
What passing struck the lustre from the leaves,
Barred out the sun, stifled the song of birds,
Peopled with ghosts this palace of the trees.
There is no lover brings his lady here,
There is no sudden pause, turning away,
Then their quick cleaving, fire unto steel,
In the dim house of the karaka trees.
For he would move in strangeness here, and blind —
Sudden a shape would quiver in his arms
Whose breasts were fear, whose voice held foreign notes,
Whose hair kept not the small familiar scent;
And he would be the bridegroom of the dark,
Clasped in the arms of one he did not know
In the locked house of the karaka trees.
No lover comes, no dreamer ventures here,
Yet, were one suddenly afraid of light,
The clean relentless daggers of the sun
Slashing the masks of men, or those pale lights
Carved like gold flowers in dim fantastic towns,
He might lie safely here, drowned in the dusk,
With no voice near him but earth’s whispering
And no companion but the soil’s brown scent,
Under the roof of the karaka trees.


Last updated 24 September, 2003