The Tuesday Poem

Katherine Mansfield on New Zealand

From the other side of the world,
From a little island cradled in the giant sea bosom,
From a little land with no history,
(Making its own history, slowly and clumsily
Piecing together this and that, finding the pattern, solving the problem,
Like a child with a box of bricks),
I, a woman, with the taint of the pioneer in my blood,
Full of a youthful strength that wars with itself and is lawless,
I sing your praises, Magnificent warrior; I proclaim your triumphant battle.

This is from a poem that Katherine wrote to the Polish poet Stanislaw Wyspianski, when she was only 21. Her hymn of praise to the poet became an elegy for her birth country - she wrote most of it while in Germany after her baby was born prematurely and died. I think she was probably homesick.  She wrote the poem in the style of Walt Whitman, with long, declamatory lines and a lyrical rhythm.  It was translated into Polish by her lover Floryan Sobienowski and published in Poland.

For more poems go to  The Tuesday Poem blog.


  1. I feel it's a bit redundant of me to say how great this poem is, nevertheless, an awesome poem from an awesome lady.

  2. Hmm, some interesting stuff there about how KM viewed NZ and herself - 'taint of the pioneer' eh? Thanks for all this fab KM stuff Kathleen.

  3. Hope you're enjoying your tour Kathleen. I loved this poem. I have only recently finished The Colour by Rose Tremain (wonderful book for anyone who hasn't already discovered it)- there is something of this poem in the novel - of a land 'making its own history' - the struggle, the pioneers. N.Z is definitely on my list for visiting one of these days.

    Avril x


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