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by Ishbel Veitch

Oh, the thrust of Words, and their violent importunity –
When the night is deep
They pry their glow-worm lights under my eyelids
And will not let me sleep.

Oh, try and be gentle, Words, and do not torment me
As you come in hordes,
Using against the brain that seeks to please you
You small bright swords.

All day I gave you your due, I sorted and dealt you,
And kept you silver-bright,
Now cease your clamour for notice, Words; be silent,
And let me sleep at night.


Three years ago, we celebrated our first Easter Weekend on Waiheke Island and our besties came to stay. Carol and I, both being lovers of books, found our way to the $2 book sale that happens every year in the Ostend Hall. Amongst all the non-fiction book was a pile of innocuous looking small brown ‘magazines’. Looking within, we discovered some beautifully evocative writing and poetry that we couldn’t help but purchase. I brought a handful of these magazines with me this weekend and found the above poem.

Given it’s Poetry Month, I thought this was the perfect poem to share for any word-lovers and writers that visit this space.

Arena magazine was published irregularly by The Handcraft Press in Wellington. This poem is from Issue 48, March 1958.


“The quarterly Arena first appeared in Wellington in June 1943 (“We enter the Arena”) and its regular production is a credit to the enthusiasm and steadfastness of its printer-editor, N. F. Hoggard, who has had unusual success in attracting the “first appearances” of writers later to become well known.” (Source)