"The Home of the Gods"
Henry Lawson, 1894
In the mellifluous language of Maori, "Pahiatua", it is popularly supposed, means "The Home of the Gods". That fact is responsible for the following effusion from the pen of our office poet.
The Home of the Gods was as wild as could be,
When man was a "savage" and nature was free,
(And beauty was charming, because, we suppose,
Its troubles were small on the subject of clothes);
When the Maori who came with a conquering band
Could live for a year on the "fat" of the land;
When your wrongs were avenged and your feelings were oiled
By a dish of "stuffed enemy", roasted or boiled,
And the Maori girl robbed of the best of her chaps
By a rival whose beauty was barer, perhaps
Could wait for her turn and find ease from the sting,
While gnawing a shank of the brazen-faced thing.
The friend of the husband (we say to his shame)
On the latter might dine with the wife of the same;
Or the husband might slaughter a lover or two,
And force the wife to partake of the stew.
Or the wives and husbands might fix it, of course,
By eating each other by way of divorce;
Thus the husband, by eating a missus untrue,
Had her all to himself, and was rid of her, too.
In fact, in the chances that married life brings,
There was scarcely a limit to possible things.
The jilted young buck of the period, no doubt,
Could lay for his rival and flatten him out;
And afterwards say to the girl of his oath,
"I've eaten your bloke, will you marry us both?"
And she'd marry 'em both; there was no need to say,
"How happy with either were t'other away!"
And all things were lovely and lively, but ah!
The white man set foot on the track to the pah,
Ran the fire through the bush and plough through the sods,
And altered the face of the Home of the Gods.
There is no God but money, for changed is the scene,
The fat of the country live high on the lean;
The councillors sit on the boundary fence;
The law is explained to the stubborn and dense,
Where the chiefs of a nation once met to decide
As to which of the prisoners first should be tried.
And Moore he keeps tally where Perham, long odds,
Draws wonderful plans for the Home of the Gods.
And Reeve upon paper keeps count of our sins
And virtues, where records were tattooed on skins,
And Skinner collects in the streets and the scrub,
Where bills were collected and paid with a club.
We murder our foes just by "running them down"
When they are not there; and the belles of the town
Fight rivals with words that are harder than stones,
And hurt them far worse than by picking their bones.
And we toil through the week, and on Saturday nights
We murder our sorrows in beery delights,
Till Constable Cooper appears on the scene
And puts in a word on behalf of the Queen.
And we lend and we borrow our vanishing wads
Of tobacco in the Home of the Gods.
And Baillie, the editor, sits in his den,
And writes it all up with a magazine pen;
And the horrible punster who says "I have come
To bail'ee out, Baillee "
(The editor returned unexpectedly at this point and shortly afterwards the poet and his mate left the office under sudden and painful circumstances.)