Tuesday, February 3, 2015


This poem No Ordinary Sun was an offering in Hone Tuwhares first book of poetry published in 1964 and has become a classic of New Zealand poetry. It cemented the reputation of Hone Tuwhare, one of Aotearoa New Zealands much loved Poets.

Hone Tuwhare was born in 1922 in Kaikohe, Northland. He belongs to Ngapuhi hapuus, Ngati Korokoro, Hgati Tautahi, Te Popoto, Uri-O-Hau. In 1937 he completed his formal education in Auckland, and was later apprenticed to the boilermaking trade. He began to write seriously in 1956.

I have been toying with blogging about this poem for a while and was finally prompted by the tree I saw and photographed for my blogpost (Bike Ride (1) ) on 1st February. I have a large tome of Hone Tuwhares collected works. He is an awesome poet, ( Sports journalists and other semantic extremists please note the appropriate use here of the word 'awesome' ).

In the foreword to this first collection of Hones poems the New Zealand poet R.A.K. Mason wrote, "In such a noble poem as No Ordinary Sun, in speaking against atomic evils imperilling our shores, he draws so profoundly from Maoridom that the source can be felt to lie in the depths common to all mankind..."

NO ORDINARY SUN - Hone Tuwhare

Tree let your arms fall:
raise them not sharply in supplication
to the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and 
resilience for this is no mere axe
to blunt, nor fire to smother.

Your sap shall not rise again
to the moon's pull.
No more incline a deferential head
to the wind's talk, or stir
to the tickle of coursing rain.

Your former shagginess shall not be
wreathed with the delightful flight
of birds nor shield 
nor cool the ardour of unheeding
lovers from the monstrous sun.

Tree let your naked arms fall
nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.
This is no gallant monsoon's flash,
no dashing trade wind's blast.
The fading green of your magic
emanations shall not make pure again
these polluted skies ...  for this 
is no ordinary sun.

O tree 
in the shadowless mountains
the white plains and 
the drab sea floor
your end at last is written.

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