Pictures in a Gallery Undersea, II: Out ant de barber est tremblant sur tant d’ombres – C. K. Stead
On steps of the British Museum the snow falls,
The snow falls on Bloomsbury, on Soho, on all
Cradled in the great cup of London.
On all the lions and literary men of London
Heaping in gutters, running away in drains
The falling snow, the city falling.
Snow behind iron railings, drifts, collects,
Collects like coins in the corners of Nelson’s hat
(Newbolt from a window in the Admirality shouting
‘Umbrellas for Nelson’ and waving a sheaf of odes)
And down the long avenue
There through her aquid glass
Circumambient Regina, turning slowly form the pane,
Is seen imperiously to mouth ‘Alber, my dear,
How do we pronounce Waitangi?’
And snow descend.
There I met my grandfather, young and bearded,
With thick Scandanavian accent, who asked me
Directions to the dock; and later departed,
Bearing me with him in his northern potency
South. Earth’s nether side in night
Yet hardly dark, and I under the day
That’s scarcely light.
Flakes descending, dissolving
On the folds of a cape
on a single blue ear-ring,
On a bowlder beneath the great trees of Russell Square.
O'Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry. Wellington: Oxford University Press.