Wednesday Kipling

Modern poetry is not good. Not good at all. Kupe is a legendary explorer whom oral history says discovered New Zealand. This poem is no where near as good as Kipling. One reason why Kipling is unfashionable

Te Whitianga a Kupe
1 May 2021

Last week we celebrated the arrival of the waka hourua of Kupe

Matawhaorua about 1100 years ago and HMB Endeavour in 1769

of then Lieutenant James Cook.

Kupe’s wife Hine Te Aparangi,

according to Ngāti Hei, named the islands Aotearoa

which refers to the Māori name for Great Barrier Island,

Aotea, with the main landmass of the Coromandel

marked by its high peaks observed by her as the longer,

‘roa’ of Aotearoa. When they landed, Kupe named the first landing

or crossing, Te Whitianga a Kupe.
When Cook arrived

for twelve days in November 1769, he named

Te Whanganui o Hei Mercury Bay. They were there

to see the Transit of Mercury on November 9

so that the astronomer Charles Green could work out

the longitude of Terra Australis Incognito.

The crew gave other names such as the Aldermen Islands

for their high rock needles like a court.

Robert Sullivan

There is a theory that one of the means of population control in the islands was to send men on voyages… in the hope they would find new Islands, but if they perished, the people survived. Taking one’s wife was a form of population control (They also had rules restricting who could breed, had slaves, and in extremis…)

Kipling has written an older and better poem, about the same period of time — around 1100 years ago — but in the Northern Hemisphere. In this time Greenland and Labrador had Viking colonies.

You went Viking because the land could not sustain you. And you did not take your wife. Unless you found a land that could sustain you.

Harp Song of the Dane Women

“The Knights of the Joyous Venture”—Puck of Pook’s Hill

What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in—
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter-quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables—
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow,
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker ?

Rudyard Kipling