New Zealand, (1925-2015)
- They are all love stories. Some are subversive,
- notably the one of the prince who pretended
- to be a swineherd, and of the covetous girl
- with a passion for music, toys and cunning
- instruments. He named and exacted his price
- and rejected her utterly. But, the consequences!
- Later, still bored, he went away on a crusade.
- The lady followed disguised as a young esquire.
- They took the wrong turning for the Holy Land
- and came to a stop somewhere in Asia Minor,
- guests of a community of heretics
- whose pastor, white beard yellow about the mouth,
- quickly unstitched all the articles of belief
- they had ever entertained, especially those
- touching upon the possession of property,
- dignities, distinctions, orders of precedence,
- decorum and protocol, showing them to be both
- untrue and of a mischievous tendency.
- The mechanical bird flew off to the oleanders
- and refused to sing any more. The prince
- wound himself up like a toy and delivered
- quite excellent music. She listened entranced
- until she could no longer hold it all in her heart
- and switched him off in mid-cadence.
- Behind his great beard the pastor of the heretics
- smiled to himself, a yellow wintry smile,
- rehearsing another sermon on the celibate state.
- She reckoned he would, in his turn, sing sweetly enough.
About the Poet:
William Hosking Oliver, New Zealand, (1925-2015), commonly known as W.H. Oliver but also known as Bill Oliver, was an eminent New Zealand historian and a poet.
Oliver completed a PhD at the University of Oxford in 1953. They returned to New Zealand and he lectured at University of Canterbury and Victoria, before becoming a professor of history at Massey University, and later served as Dean of Humanities.
From 1983, Oliver led the development of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB). He also wrote extensively on New Zealand history and published several volumes of poetry. [DES-03/18]
- The Encyclopedia of New Zealand offers many pathways to understanding New Zealand. It is a comprehensive guide to the country’s peoples, natural environment, history, culture, economy, institutions and society.
- The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography forms part of Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography is the foremost reference work on the lives of people who shaped this country’s history and culture from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.