new zealand electronic poetry centre

Ursula Bethell

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Parakeets. (Rangiora, 1883). July 1933

Plenty of peaches to eat
          For all marauders,
Children and parakeets
          In our old orchard!

The little sleek popinjays
          Well I remember,
Gay troupes of acrobats
          Dressed in green velvet.

High in the peach-boughs
          We clambered and feasted,
Swift from the wild bush
          The bird bevvies hasted.

How prettily shrill
          Was the sound of their clamour!
There has been no green since
          Green as their glamour.

Never peach tastes now
          As those peaches tasted,
They are bought and sold now
          Graded in cases.

There are no parakeets
          Clinging to peach-boughs,
Progress has banished them,
          Vanished, our shingled house.

Practical fruit-orchards
          Set out in neat rows
Fill up the hill-corners,
          Screened where the wind blows.

Up-to-date bungalows
          Spring where our peach-trees grew,
And no one to-day knows
          Where the old cob-house stood.

New blights and parasites
          The orchardist fights, and
The green birds have taken flight
          To a sea-island . . .

They should have skill, I ween
          Telling to children
                    Old tales and folk stories
          With magic in them,
                    And fancies.
Who have themselves seen
A bright thing that has been,
For memory still green,
          But now, no more is..

From Collected Poems (Caxton, 1950)


Last updated 22 May, 2005