Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Homage to Hipango

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The Queen at Osborne, widow-weeded,
Loved to think her children one;
Imperial devoirs, kindly heeded,
Symbolized unsetting sun.
Is that why young George King Hipango
Left kaka, tui and papango
To bear the English cold ae nd damp
Till sweats and spitting, blood and cramp
Cut off a life but half begun?
Did he hate our treeless acres,
Blackthorn-powdered, scored by hoof?
Did he miss the mythic makers’
Tekoteko on his roof?
Pohutakawa filled his dreaming,
Titoki and kowhai gleaming,
Warmly rich and redly gold.
Could new plants and gods oust old
When dreadful moment came to proof?
Village patriots and bigots
Doubtless thought that they did well
Laying him here among the Piggotts,
Wairua snatched from snares of hell.
Yews are loud with mistle thrushes,
Robins pipe in elder bushes;
But far from this grey church, grey sky
Unearthly in the kauris high
Korimako sounds his bell.

George King Hipango, a Maori Chieftain aged nineteen from Wanganui, North Island, is buried in the churchyard at Letcombe Regis, Oxfordshire.  He died of consumption in Letcombe in 1871.

Undated. post 1978