Photo of Auckland, New Zealand‘Island City: Auckland’ and Other Poetry by Jan Darling The Society August 18, 2018 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 12 Comments Island City: Auckland I’ve grown to love this place of sea and noise Where buildings have assumed a regal poise As high they stab on sultry summer nights Daring to dim the stars above their lights. The neons flicker brazen into sky And tinselled posters twinkle at each eye Proclaiming that this city is alive And recommending goods on which you’ll thrive. At midday pavements throb with office feet In exodus to cafe bars to eat, Their owners sipping coolness from the breeze Which sidles through the streets from polished seas. The beaches baking lazy to the east Are spun with birds and shells and picnic feast Quiescent waves creep gently to the shore And drowsily retire to ocean floor. An idle dinghy snoozes at its buoy And dreams of leading warships in convoy; And tiny spratt are entertaining thoughts Of scuttling sharks at underwater sports; Small birds untaught of Hitchcocks and Spiegels Are planning to attack some legal eagles. A feeble wind that scarcely quivers sails In fancy lashes fearful schools of whales. But beaches sprawling windswept to the west Are bitterly symbolic in their quest For souls to fill the coffers in their church Where Poseidon reclaims from salty perch. Here, winds in frenzy whip and splice each mound And slouching crabs are snooping all around; And even soft white seabirds lack a grace As awkwardly they lumber wingéd space. The jagged rocks stoop ugly from the tide Where straggling seaweed strangles at each stride The smould’ring sun the seaside reeds has baked And smoothest rocks with vicious shells are caked. These are the beaches of Time and Season Demented waters of gnashing waves Fired with reality, wild beyond reason Conquering humans to be their slaves. Elegy for Koko the Literate Gorilla who Died June 19, 2018. The Earth is still, Wind dares not move, for Death Has laid her claim to treasure rare and bright Koko, in sleep, gave up her final breath Alone, but loved by millions day and night. Not just an ape, a tender loving soul An ape who loved a kitten called All Ball An ape who loved to tease and talk and roll An ape who held admirers in her thrall. Koko signed with hands and fingers clear Her happy heart expressed her clever mind And grieved so when she lost her kitten dear ‘Cat, cry, have-sorry, Koko-love’ she signed. First named Hanabi-ko for Fireworks Child By keepers at the San Francisco Zoo She soon became Koko re-domiciled In Californian style secure and new. At Penny’s knee she learned to tell her thought We marvelled when she tried to sign a word We followed ev’ry change her learning brought And thrilled that more she heard, she onward spurred. She soon had fifty signs she understood And then a hundred more she quickly learned As Penny taught her everything she could To help her to enjoy respect she’d earned. As ev’ry day more talent she displayed She added signs and symbols to her game She added words and lists of thousands made She learned new sounds and thus increased her fame. Dark Continent – you lost a precious child (Who carried in her heart a mem’ry still Of jungle hot and green, as yet unseen?) I have the hope that see you now she will. Your child was blest with something close to Grace, A virtue, charming, now so seldom seen, A pure example for the human race, Nay man nay beast but somewhere in between. Jan Darling is a New Zealander who has worked in Auckland, Wellington, London, Barcelona, New York and Sydney at copywriting and marketing strategy. She has spent her leisure time over sixty years writing poetry and short stories. Now retired, she lives in pastoral New South Wales with her husband Arturo. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 12 Responses James A. Tweedie August 18, 2018 Back in the 1800s the British magazine Punch ran a cartoon showing a Vicar eating breakfast at a parishoner’s home. “And how is your egg?” He is asked. “Parts of it are excellent,” he replies. Tact compels me to do the same with these two poems. There are some lines which rhyme. There are some lines that that exhibit iambic pentameter. There are some lines that represent proper English grammar. The ocean breeze that sometimes turns downtown Auckland into the world’s largest wind tunnel is there, as is Koko’s imaginary genetic memory of her African origins. “Parts of it are excellent.” The vicar may have exaggerated. I wish to thank Ms Darling for sharing her efforts and thoughts. I would also like to encourage her in future to increase the proportion of words that rhyme to those that don’t, and to do the same with the meter and the grammar/syntax. Personally, I prefer mine “over easy.” Keep at it, Jan. You’re off to a start! Reply James A. Tweedie August 18, 2018 I fear I misspoke re the rhymes. They are there. Apparently what happened was that when I subconsciously reworked the lines into proper grammar the rhymes ended up in the wrong places. My bad. Reply Jan Darling August 18, 2018 Thank you James A. for your considerations. I am hugely pleased that you take the time to read and comment. I appreciate the point about your subconscious reworking of the lines into “proper” grammar – but I am not heir to your educational experience. I’m particularly reminded of the differences between what is proper in American grammar and what is proper in English grammar, which Noah Webster found it necessary to identify in his works. To some degree we are each working with different tools. I appreciate and value your observations. Michael Dashiell August 18, 2018 I mostly liked both poems. Though modern in character, they’re not afraid to express sincere love. I thought many of the words chosen were smart if not brilliant. The only problem I had was with the Auckland poem that uses couplets. These tend to suffer monotony after a while, but many famous and successful poets have done the same. What I hope to see is formal poetry done in a modern sense to make a fit reply to contemporary free verse poetry. I think formal poetry has the ability to stand again. Unfortunately, poetry in general, both formal and free don’t make popular reading. We need some drama regarding these two types. Free verse has been the genre most often published for the past 100 years. Though recognized as modern, it’s now in wrinkled old age. Formal poetry however has been a shunned and neglected child that I believe has the power, if done properly, to make a worthy competitor with contemporary free verse, even end its long, complacent and tiresome reign. Reply Jan Darling August 18, 2018 Agree absolutely! We need to popularise poetry and I’m sure The Society is gradually sneaking into some neglected areas. Maybe we need to remember that great events create great poetry. WWI for a few years placed Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon into every English literature programme. Perhaps Lit. classes would benefit from creating a view of the world as expressed though the best poetry of each 30 year (or so) period over the last five hundred years…. some way to show how poetry mirrors social and political life in different environments. Thanks for your comments, Michael. Reply Michael Dashiell August 18, 2018 It’s sad that only a handful of literary magazines publish formal poetry, and that thousands only publish free verse poems. This look-a-like conformity stinks like rotten fruit. I hope our group can help put a dent in this rampant sameness of literature. I’m glad this site and ourselves exists. C.B. Anderson August 18, 2018 The comments of James and Michael were astute. And now I wish to add my own two cents’ worth: I want to go to Auckland. Maybe I’ve always wanted to go there, but now all the more so. A couple of points about contractions & elision: Twice you wrote “ev’ry.” This is not necessary. I don’t know anyone who pronounces “every” with three syllables. With “mem’ry” it’s a slightly different matter. The way I deal with it (and I’ve used the word often in iambic verse) is to assume that the reader will scan the word properly according to the rhythm the writer has established, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to make sure. I think that “memory,” in ordinary speech is most often pronounced as two syllables. In any case, schwas can usually (3 or 4 syllables?) be disregarded in polysyllabic words. I know how difficult it is to write metrical verse on definite subjects, as compared to spinning lyric excursions, and so I must approve of your narrative as it stands. And God bless Penny, Koko’s mentor. I’ve often wondered what evolutionary effect human interaction with, say, dogs, apes, & dolphins will have on these client species. We already know the effect they have had on those of us attuned to the wonders of inter-specific interactions. Reply Jan Darling August 18, 2018 Thanks C.B. I think you’ll like Auckland and those beaches to the north. I, too, wonder what evolutionary effect human interraction will have on our close relatives in Nature. What drives dolphins to seek human company? How is it that my heart hears what my ears cannot? (I speak of my affinity with the cats who have ruled my world. I hear a cat walking on soft carpet. I know when a cat is at the door two floors away.) How do animals know when you need sympathy? How much more can dogs give us when they can be trained to sniff out drugs, weapons, sickness? It’s a wonderful world we share. Back to poetry – you’re right about elisions. Perhaps I didn’t trust my readers sufficiently. My thanks. Reply manfred knuth August 18, 2018 Sounds good ,i like both, in fact i did not know about KOKO’s ability, a very remarkable animal, Reply Jan Darling August 18, 2018 You have met Koko – I renamed her Gerald (a reference to Not the Nine o’clock News); Gerald used to sit on the couch. Thanks for reading me. Reply David Watt August 19, 2018 With lines such as “Their owners sipping coolness from the breeze Which sidles through the streets from polished seas” there is much to appreciate in these poems. As a postcard from Auckland, “Island City” succeeds in capturing the elements, life, and the moment. Reply Jan September 10, 2018 Thank you David. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the poems and took time to let me know. Jan Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.