Monday, June 27, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Sea Call, by Hone Tuwhare

Sea Call

Let the radio pip and shudder
at each dawn’s news

Let the weatherman hint
a gaunt meaning to the chill
and ache of bone:
but when the new moon’s bowl
is storing rain, the pull of time
and sea will cry to me

And I shall stuff my longing
in an empty pack
and hasten to the secret shore
where the land’s curve lies
clad in vermilion – and the green
wind tugging gravely.

There let the waves lave
pleasuring the body’s senses,
and the sun’s feet
shall twinkle and flex
to the sea-egg’s needling
and the paua’s stout kiss
shall drain a rock’s heart
to the sandbar’s booming.

- Hone Tuwhare
reproduced by permission of the estate of Hone Tuwhare

I was about eleven or twelve when I fell in love with John Masefield's poem, Sea Fever. It spoke to a solitary young girl who spent a great deal of time at the beach, swimming, clambering over rocks and dabbling in rock pools - elements of the poem such as "the call of the running tide"... "the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying" were very familiar to me.

Sea Fever though, speaks of a mariner, leading a "vagrant gypsy life" far from shore.

Hone Tuwhare's poem Sea Call seems to me to express something of the same longing in a more shore-bound way, closer to my childhood experience. There are some beautiful images in here - the land's curve clad in vermilion (surely a reference to the red blossom of coastal pohutukawa trees), the sun's feet which twinkle and flex, the paua's stout kiss. I was unfamiliar with this poem until I heard it read at the launch of the Phantom Billstickers Poetry Poster series. I was delighted to be able to bring home a small size version of the poster on which it appears (coming soon to a lamp post near you!) It was to be read by Hone's son Rob, but Rob's flight from Auckland was unfortunately cancelled due to volcanic ash, so another reader took his place.

My thanks to Rob for permission to reproduce the poem here.

For more Tuesday poems go to the main hub site, where there is a poem posted each week. Further poems can be found on the blogs of the participants listed in the sidebar there. Biographical details and more of Hone Tuwhare's poems can be found at the Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust website linked to his name above.


Joan said...

Thank you Catherine.. I really likt this poem of Hone's, and your words about it..

Helen Lowe said...

Interestingly I really 'heard' the echoes to "Sea Fever" even before I got you your words, Catherine. Very 'experiential' poem.

Jennifer Compton said...

love your blog and all the pics on it