In the very early morning
Long before Dawn time
I lay down in the paddock
And listened to the cold song of the grass.
Between my fingers the green blades,
And the green blades pressed against my body.
"Who is she leaning so heavily upon me?"
Sang the grass.
Hinemoa, Tui, Maina,
All of them were born together;
They are quite an extra special
Set of babies—wax and leather.
Every day they took an airing;
Mummy made them each a bonnet;
Two were cherry, one was yellow
With a bow of ribbon on it.
In the profoundest ocean
There is a rainbow shell,
It is always there, shining most stilly
Under the greatest storm waves
That the old Greek called "ripples of laughter."
As you listen, the rainbow shell
Sings—in the profoundest ocean.
It is always there, singing most silently!
Playing in the fire and twilight together,
My little son and I,
Suddenly—woefully—I stoop to catch him.
"Try, mother, try!"
Old Nurse Silence lifts a silent finger:
"Hush! cease your play!"
What happened? What in that tiny moment
Into the world you sent her, mother,
Fashioned her body of coral and foam,
Combed a wave in her hair's warm smother,
And drove her away from home
In the dark of the night she crept to the town
And under a doorway she laid her down,
The little blue child in the foam-fringed gown.
And never a sister and never a brother
Walked out into the street
And splashed in all the pubbles till
She had such shocking feet
Stayed quietly in the house
And sat upon the fender stool
As still as any mouse.
Most merciful God
Look kindly upon
An impudent child
Who wants sitting on.
This evening late
I went to the door
And then to the gate
There were more stars—more
But then there comes that moment rare
When, for no cause that I can find,
The little voices of the air
Sound above all the sea and wind.
The sea and wind do then obey
And sighing, sighing double notes
Of double basses, content to play
A droning chord for the little throats—
The Sea called—I lay on the rocks and said:
"I am come."
She mocked and showed her teeth,
Stretching out her long green arms.
"Go away!" she thundered.
"Then tell me what I am to do," I begged.
"If I leave you, you will not be silent,
But cry my name in the cities
In an opal dream cave I found a fairy:
Her wings were frailer than flower petals,
Frailer far than snowflakes.
She was not frightened, but poised on my finger,
Then delicately walked into my hand.
I shut the two palms of my hands together
And held her prisoner.
I carried her out of the opal cave,
Come, let us all sing very high
And all sing very loud
And keep on singing in the street
Until there's quite a crowd;
And keep on singing in the house
And up and down the stairs;
Then underneath the furniture
Let's all play Polar bears;
After all the rain, the sun
Shines on hill and grassy mead;
Fly into the garden, child,
You are very glad indeed.
For the days have been so dull,
Oh, so special dark and drear,
That you told me, "Mr. Sun
Has forgotten we live here."