A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Land of New Zeal

The New Zealand landscape has already been dosed in superlatives, and I could easily dip it in some more, but I’ll spare you that. Instead I am going to share two poems which I have come across between my beach and hill wanderings, which, at least for me, capture something which the superlatives don’t.


Place

Once in a while
You may come across a place
where everything
seems as close to perfection
as you will ever need.
And striving to be faultless
the air on its knees
hold the trees apart,
yet nothing is categorically
thus, or that, and before the dusk
mellows and fails
the light is like honey
on the stems of tussock grass,
and the shadows
are mauve birthmarks
on the hills.

- Brian Turner


Deep in the Hills

Once I thought the land I had loved and known
Lay curled in my inmost self; musing alone
In the quiet room I unfolded the folded sea,
Unlocked the forest and the lonely tree,
Hill and mountain valley beach and stone,
All these, I said, are here and exist in me.

But now I know it is I who exist in the land;
My inmost self is blown like a grain of sand
Along the windy beach, and is only free
To wander among the mountains, enter the tree,
To turn again a sea-worn stone in the hand,
Because these things exist outside of me.

O far from the quiet room my spirit fills,
The familiar valleys, is folded deep in the hills.

- Ruth Dallas



I’ve had interviews of a different kind over the last few weeks. Interviews with nature. It is hard not to in New Zealand. In awe. In wonder. But while the beauty of the place uproots, there are also manifold questions about the fragility of the landscape and wildlife which inhabit it. I have heard some crazy statistics lately about the endangered birds of the world- of the top 50, about 30 are in New Zealand. It includes the Fairy Penguin, the Yellow Eyed Penguin, the Sea Albatross- populations of which are slightly stabilising due to rigorous conservation efforts, but which are nowhere near safe levels.

Then I look at the landscape, knowing the fjords and valleys are about 40 million years in the making, and ask myself, who really has a right to this place?

I have only been here a short while, but in that time I think I am developing a new perspective on time or an altered twist on significance; a longitudinal one. I am here for an eyeblink, lucky for the sight of it, privileged to walk it.

New Zealand. Land of New Zeal. More wanderings to do. More questions to ask.

1 Comments:

Blogger Erika Frykman said...

Greetings! I just opened my blog and noticed that your NZ piece was named the same thing as my blog.

What a wonderful journey you are on. Thank you for posting it.

I am leaving for a two month trip for NZ this week, and do not have such an admirable mission as yours, mine is to see the sights and spread my wings.

Anyway, I felt compelled to reach out to you. I dont have much to say, but I will keep watching your blog.

6:02 p.m.

 

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