new zealand electronic poetry centre

Ursula Bethell

online works



Now, Michael, understand me. Be attentive.

The hedgehogs are my very good friends;
So are the lizards, basking in the sun;
Of the bush-warblers I will say nothing –
There you are fanatical and will not listen,
So we must differ (the little birds have wings).
But take heed that we find no tailless lizards:
Know that the rockwalls are reserved for lizards;
And you shall not frighten hedgehogs in the dark;
Confine, Michael, your hostilities to rabbits,
The neighbour’s dog, mice (if any), or a rat.

Or those phantom creatures in the undergrowth,
Creaking, rustling, crawling before daybreak,
Making your eyes burn and your fur tingle,
When our garden turns into a strange jungle,
An old cat-ghostly forest, an immemorial hunting-ground,
So wild, so still, so dangerous
Before the break of day.

From a Garden in the Antipodes (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929)


Last updated 9 April, 2005