Two Voices

1974

 

The Harbour:

English ship on the horizon, I have had my sleep.

What you once have set your eyes on you will wish to keep.

Your rapacious spirit reaches out to cover land and sea.

Say before you bruise my beaches what you want with me.

 

The Settlers:

Quiet hills above the water, clothed in forest, fair of form,

England gave us toil and slaughter; give us shelter from the storm.

From the lowlands and the highlands we have dared the angry sea.

Come to share the utmost islands, that our children may be free.

 

The Harbour:

English village in my shelter, where the harbour meets the hill,

why this haste and helter-skelter, can you not keep still?

Desolation is not virtue, hewing every bush and tree.

Leaves and birds have never hurt you – let my forest be!

 

The Settlers:

We must make a little clearance. We need room to grow.

With the forest’s disappearance we are safer from the foe.

We are getting daily stronger, soon the tribes will see the light.

This truce cannot last much longer – they will surely fight.

 

The Harbour:

English men your guns and engines drive the tribesmen from the plain

Maori fight for sport and vengeance – Pakeha for naked gain!

Only yesterday you bade them “trust your Monarch and be free.”

Keep the promises you made them – let my people be!

 

The Settlers:

We have tamed the trackless wild, built a city by the sea

fit to raise an English child in an English colony.

May the generations after still remember us with pride:

all our triumph and disaster – how we lived and how we died.

 

The Harbour:

English town your roads and bridges find a way across the hills.

Fill the harbour, smooth the ridges, iron tools and iron wills.

Strip the green hills bare and cover, with your grey prosperity,

that your sons may not discover what you did to me.

 

 

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