Story: Poetry

A. R. D. Fairburn and his wife, Jocelyn

Rex and Jocelyn Fairburn are shown here just after their marriage at Clench Common, England, in 1932. Fairburn wrote many impressive love poems such as 'A farewell' (which you can hear in the audio file) and 'The cave'.  The first three verses of 'The cave' are:

From the cliff-top it appeared a place of defeat,
the nest of an extinct bird, or the hole where the sea hoards its bones,
a pocket of night in the sun-faced rock,
sole emblem of mystery and death in that enormous noon.
We climbed down, and crossed over the sand,
and there were islands floating in the wind-whipped blue,
and clouds and islands trembling in your eyes,
and every footstep and every glance
was a fatality felt and unspoken, our way
rigid and glorious as the sun's path,
unbroken as the genealogy of man.
And when we had passed beyond
into the secret place and were clasped
by the titanic shadows of the earth,
all was transfigured, all was redeemed,
so that we escaped from the days
that had hunted us like wolves, and from ourselves,
in the brief eternity of the flesh.
(Ian Wedde and Harvey McQueen, eds., The Penguin book of New Zealand verse. Auckland: Penguin, 1985, p. 143)
Using this item

Hocken Library, University of Otago
Reference: S14-047b

Permission of the Hocken Library Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, must be obtained before any re-use of this image. Further information may be obtained from the Library through its website.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (A.R.D. Fairburn reads six of his poems/Reference ID35187)

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

John Newton, 'Poetry - The Caxton poets', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 September 2023)

Story by John Newton, published 22 Oct 2014