Hone Tuwhare, Maori poet (born Oct. 21, 1922, Kaikohe, Northland, N.Z.—died Jan. 16, 2008, Dunedin, N.Z.), made an international impression and became the first widely celebrated Maori poet with his initial collection, No Ordinary Sun (1964). Tuwhare’s poetry, written in English, has a conversational tone and incorporates both Maori and biblical rhythms; the subjects range from the political to the personal and often powerfully evoke the beauties of nature. No Ordinary Sun won Tuwhare a fellowship at Otago University in 1969. He published Come Rain Hail (1970) and Sap-wood and Milk(1972) and then helped organise the first Maori Writers and Artists Conference (1973). During the 1970s he was able to give up his job as a railroad boilermaker and devote himself to poetry. Of the many verse collections that followed, Shape-Shifter (1997) and Piggy-Back Moon (2001) won Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Tuwhare was poet laureate of New Zealand in 1999–2000, and in 2003 he, together with novelist Janet Frame and historian Michael King, received the inaugural Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement.
Task 1: Read the poem and write a sentence that explains what the poem is about.
Do you remember
that wild stretch of land
with the lone tree guarding the point
from the sharp-tongued sea?
The fort we built out of branches
wrenched from the tree, is dead wood now.
The air that was thick with the whirr of
toetoe spears succumbs at last to the grey gull’s wheel.
of the mangrove yield no finer feast
of silver-bellied eels, and sea-snails
cooked in a rusty can
Allow me to mend the broken ends
of shared days:
but I wanted to say
that the tree we climbed
that gave food and drink
to youthful dreams, is no more.
Pursed to the lips her fine-edged
leaves made whistle – now stamp
no silken tracery on the cracked
in this drear
dreamless time I clasp
your hand if only for reassurance
that all our jewelled fantasies were
real and wore splendid rags.
Perhaps the tree
will strike root again:
give soothing shade to a hurt and
Task 2: Deep analysis (check out this presentations and annotate your poem)
Task 3: Answer the following questions
- Who is the speaker in this poem? What kind of person is he or she?
- To whom is the speaker speaking, or in other words, who is the audience?
- What are the situation and setting in time (era) and place?
- What is the purpose of the poem?
- State the poem’s central idea or theme in a singular sentence.
- Describe the structure of the poem. How does this relate to content?
- What is the tone of the poem? How is it achieved?
- Notice the poem’s diction. Discuss any words which seem especially well-chosen.
- Are there predominant usages of figurative language? What is the effect?
- Explain the use of any devices (mentioned before) and how they help to convey tone or theme.