new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

Truce on the Ark
"I shall be one huge laugh,"
Said the river-hog, blowing
Air-bubbles through the mud;
"Vast as a quake of earth,
A hillside’s heaving mirth,
All the beasts joining in,
Clapping of wing and fin,
My clown’s face cut in half
With its great smile.
This to Man’s knowing
Bring I the jests that Heaven
(After this Flood,)
Shall use for leaven,
Kneading us free from guile."

"I shall be swift," said the deer,
"Match when he run."
"I like the orange sun
Blue-barred with shade
Shall couch, that unafraid
He of limbs small and weak
May venture near,
Playing at hide-and-seek,"
Thus tiger said,
Lifting a bearded head.
"I shall be fraught with awe,"
Said the finned ghost gliding below,
"Mighty of fluke and jaw —
Thus may he know
How old Leviathan
Is meek with Man."
"I shall be naught but song,"
Clear cried the bird,
"One sweet ecstatic word,
Thus may he learn from me —
That was not wise or strong —
The soul set free."

Thus, on old reeking Ark,
Grounded on Ararat,
The creatures in the dark,
Tortoise and mole and bat
After their several kind
Spake from a peaceful mind.

Why it has gone amiss
Ask of thy heart:
Ask how Man manifests
Love of his lowly guests,
With the cold Judas kiss
Of spear and dart.
Yet, through the ivory gate,
Still his dream wends
Back to that hour elate —
Creaking against the dark
The mooring-chains of Ark;
All that breathes, friends —
And in the skies the Dove,
One pulse of love.


Last updated 21 September, 2003