Wm. Hart-Smith  - A Bloody Shame.

Hart-Smith, William (Bill) (1911–1990) Poet of two countries.
W. Hart-Smith, b. in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, 23rd of November, 1911. He lived in England and Scotland for 12 years; then in New Zealand for 13 years. In 1936 he moved to Australia. In 1946 Hart-Smith returned to New Zealand and became an adult education tutor and organiser in South Canterbury. Divorced next year, on 8 January 1949 at Chalmers Presbyterian Church, Timaru, he married 19-year-old Patricia Anne McBeath. They had two sons and a daughter. He kept diaries 1948-1954. They are at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. Photocopies of the originals (holograph) were made in 1971. Day by day entries concerning domestic life and especially Hart-Smith's activities as South Canterbury adult education tutor organiser. Notes on lectures given and meetings attended. He had moved back to Sydney in 1962 and in 1963-64 was president of the Poetry Society of Australia. Later moved to Perth in 1970 where he lived for nearly 8 years. During his stay in Western Australia, he wrote a large number of poems about the places, the flora and the fauna of the State. He returned to New Zealand in 1978 and lived in Auckland. He wrote a large number of poems about Australia and NZ. Married and divorced at least three times. Died 15 April 1990 aged 78. This poem is about rock art. Here is another South Canterbury poem.

Poems in Doggerel : some South Canterbury riverbed reflections (from a completed sequence) / W. Hart-Smith. Publisher : Wellington, NZ: Handcraft Press, 1955. 8 pg. William Hart-Smith
Alexander Turnbull Library - National Library of New Zealand

When the ocean builds its stony ramps
The Moa-hunters had their camps.
This was before the Maori came
Who were as fierce as the first were tame.
Now, putting two-and two together,
This land must once have known warmer weather,
Or the Moa-hunter were extra hardy
To have suffered frosts without a cardy
or shirt, or pants, or anything
Warmer than skirts of home-made string
Between them and the cold sou'easter,
I like this peaceful, merry feaster
On birds of most enormous size
With brains no bigger than their eyes
"Tis thought these Moa-hunters made
Long journeys inland to rob and raid
The roosting places of this bird
Whose burping is no longer heard
Nor heavy tread, I understand,
The length and breadth of this fair land.

These vanished Moa-hunter braves
Some think made funny marks in caves
Found in limestone block or bluff.
"Doodles!" says Professor Gruff.
Think what you like, this much is clear.
They had the most attractive gear
And left their artifacts lying around
So that one day they might be found
By amateur archeologists ...
And professional, who shake their fists
Whenever they come upon the tracks
Of the fiddling-fossicker type who lacks
A varisty background. No degree
Is synonymous with a low degree.
The fossicker finds, pockets and gloats,
And simply won't take proper notes.

The "Maori" cave-drawings and such
Are admired by visitors, mostly Dutch,
While local farmers mostly scoff
And let their livestock rub them off.

I know a Maori lass who, undaunted,
Braved the notion the caves are haunted
By the ghosts of those who once camped there.
She was sketching the drawings, and I'll swear
One day she got an awful scare,
I saw her running down the hill;
Her startled eyes are with me still.
My soul's not sensitive like hers.
I only get all stuck with burrs.
Yet, picnic parties up these rivers
Always give me horrid shivers.

They add their drawings to the rest
And vacuity make manifest.
O pierced heart and penknifed name, __
It really is a bloody shame.
I'll tell a joke against myself
I found scrawled on a rocky shelf
Above the River Opihi
Two sentences that seemed to be
Lines of Maori poetry.
The words were written in pencil lead
I tried to find out what they said.
With help, I managed to translate.
They said, I want to whatsit-cate.

Morality's the fig-leaf kind. Hence, sir,
One has to be one's own strict censor.
In this fair land, I am afraid,
A spade is seldom called a spade,
The upright rant and rave and fume;
Ah, but this is the land of nom de plume. 

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project