Works in the Herald 1931

Beside the terrible catastrophe that has overtaken the stricken New Zealand towns, the economic woes of Australia appear negligible.

We curse our lot; we gird at fate;
   Like peevish children we complain;
Hope dies, and life grows desperate
   Because of ease and pleasures salin.
Because bright fortune fails to smile
   And pamper us, as once she used,
But frowns a little for the while,
   To bleak despair we are reduced.

Yet, o'er a narrow stretch of sea, Where lately smiled a city fair, Falls cataclysmic agony, And death in horrid shapes is there. All in an instant men are hurled - Who knew no foe, who earned no blame - Out of a peaceful, sunlit world 'Mid shattered homes and seething flame.
Crazed women roam the littered street Seeking their babes; with sobbing breath They search grim ruins, there to meet Fresh, ghastly evidence of death - Death, creeping death, where men have lain Trapped 'neath the press of heavy beams Waiting thro' hours of nameless pain Such as men know in frightful dreams.
And we complain! . . . Poor timid fools. Because our luxuries grow less, Each beats his breast and drones and drools Of gloom and shattered happiness. While there, by very earth betrayed, Forsaken, doomed, men still are men; And heroism there displayed Preserves the name of Man again.
There, where the elements conspire To end a world at one swift stroke. Stirred by the flame of that grim pyre, Divinity in Man awoke. . . . Here, petulant, with tears and blame, We gird against Fate's mild decree Who should bow down our heads in shame And thank our gods for sanctuary.

Herald, 5 February 1931, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002