Hone Tuwhare, the first Maori poet to be published in English and one of New Zealand's most celebrated verse writers, has died. He was 86. Tuwhare's initial collection, No Ordinary Sun in 1964, was a passionate cry against nuclear weapons, penned in response to the destruction of Hiroshima in 1945 -- the first book of poetry by a Maori writer in English.
No Ordinary Sun
Tree let your arms fall:
raise them not sharply in supplication
to the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and
resilience for this is no mere axe
to blunt nor fire to smother.
Your sap shall not rise again
to the moon’s pull.
No more incline a deferential head
to the wind’s talk, or stir
to the tickle of coursing rain.
Your former shagginess shall not be
wreathed with the delightful flight
of birds nor shield
nor cool the ardour of unheeding
lovers from the monstrous sun.
Tree let your naked arms fall
nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.
This is no gallant monsoon’s flash,
no dashing trade wind’s blast.
The fading green of your magic
emanations shall not make pure again
these polluted skies . . . for this
is no ordinary sun.
in the shadowless mountains
the white plains and
the drab sea floor
your end at last is written.
Hone Tuwhare (1922-2008)