Why have we in these isles no fairy dell,
No haunted wood, nor wild enchanted mere?
asked Alexander Bathgate, a nineteenth century Scottish immigrant to New Zealand, in his poem Faerie.
Our woods are dark, our lakelets’ waters clear,
he goes on,
As those of any land where fairies dwell.
In every verdant vale our streamlets tell
Their simple story to the list’ning ear,
Our craggy mountains steep are full of fear –
Even rugged men have felt their awful spell.
Yet lack they glamour of the fairy tale,
Nor gnome nor goblin do they e’er recall,
Though Nature speaks, e’en in the wind’s sad wail
Who shall give meaning to Her voices all?
The poet’s art, – as yet without avail, –
Must weave the story of both great and small.*
I must admit, as a fellow British immigrant to New Zealand obsessed with myth and fantasy…
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