Posted by: John Looker | 13 December, 2009


Here is a third poem set in New Zealand, although the subject matter goes wider I hope, talking about different kinds of ‘watersheds’. 



Driving up to the high mountain pass
the valley looks bare. The river is low and slips
along in a stony bed at its own unhurried pace.
And now we’re through, for the ground slopes 

away to another world: clouds loiter
like over-persistent suitors drawn to the coast.
Among the trees and ferns and creepers, water
cascades, oozes and drips, or haunts as a mist.

Through this pass the Maoris used to trade
or go to war, for this was a frontier zone
where minds dug in and well-armed fears would tread.
Perhaps from heights like these their scouts first saw,
delicate as ferns, the strange design
of sails and rigging growing out at sea.

   © John Stevens 2009


  1. Love it, Darling.
    F XX


  2. I like this poem. It shows me something, somewhere, not by projecting scenes as from a movie screen, but by offering a pair of hands that will guide me to experience it myself.


    • Thank you for your kind comment and for taking the time to respond! It is very rewarding to know that someone has enjoyed a poem. Best wishes.


  3. I really like this dad. It brings back memories of travelling through NZ, in atmosphere and landscape. I especially like the last two verses, and the line

    cascades, oozes and drips, or haunts as a mist”

    soooooooo west coast!


    • Thanks, honey!


  4. Well, ’tis a very nice poem indeed. The last two stanzas are especially strong and use creative language. What great images: ‘where minds dug in and well-armed fears would tread’ and ‘sails and rigging growing out at sea.’ I don’t have to have visited to know the place after reading these descriptions.


    • Thanks Chucky for your generous comments. By the way, I have enjoyed reading your poems about indigenous people of North America posted on your own site.


  5. “And now we’re through, for the ground slopes
    away to another world: clouds loiter”
    stunning image!
    and the last stanza is also amazing, so wonderful.
    seems perfectly composed.


    • Evelyn, thanks for all your comments on different poems recently. I’m especially glad you like this one as it’s a favourite of my own.


  6. Just browsing and came across this pearl. The theme echoes my interests in long-ago cultures and is very well done. Great imagery.


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