John Buck, 21 January 2008

posted by Michele

The thing to remember about Hone is that he grew up first on the King James Bible and then on Shakespeare. So he heard that magnificent poetic language over and under and around his own ways into Polynesian storytelling and Polynesian song. He took the animism of the Maori world – everything in it is alive and has a voice – and he wrote that world, those voices, hearing as he went the echo and cadences of the classic English tradition. His poems sound so good, they’re wonderful to hear out loud, and not just because Hone was a wonderful reader of his own work. A poem like ‘Rain’ will still be around when we’ve forgotten almost everything else. It goes straight in, it’s everyone’s poem to learn and remember. My children’s children will be taught ‘Rain’ and I think Hone knew that. He knew very well what his poems could do: But if I / should not hear / smell or feel or see / you // you would still / define me / disperse me / wash over me / rain.

No comments: