NZ book month 04 – Selected Poems, Allen Curnow

Fourth, entry, day eight of the NZ Book Month challenge….will catch up by the weekend.

Not a massive Curnow fan, and not a fan of poetry which is self-conciously about ‘nationhood’ or anything like that.
But I love ‘The Unhistoric Story’, one of Curnow’s early poems. The continued refrain ‘something different, something nobody counted on’ does, it seems to me, say something about New Zealand.
Here’s the first and last stanzas (I love the last stanza):

Whaling for continents coveted deep in the south

The Dutchman envied the unknown, drew bold

Imagers of market-place, populous river mouth

The land of Beach ignorant of the value of gold:

Morning in Murderers Bay

Blood drifted away.

It was something different, something

Nobody counted on.

After all re-ordering of old elements

Time trips up all but the humblest of heart

Stumbling after the fire, not in the smoke of events;

For many are called, but many are left at the start.

And whatever islands may be

Under or over the sea

It is something different, something

Nobody counted on.


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