Biography of Jessie Mackay
Jessie Mackay was a New Zealand poet.
Her parents were Scottish. She went to Christchurch to train as a teacher, and taught at small rural schools until 1898. She moved to Dunedin, and worked as a journalist for the Otago Witness. In 1902, she moved to Christchurch where she lived with her sister Georgina. In 1906, she was lady editor of the Canterbury Times.
Her papers are held by the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand. The Jessie Mackay Memorial Award for Verse is given by the PEN New Zealand.
Jessie Mackay's Works:
The Spirit of the Rangatira and other ballads.. Melbourne: George Robertson. 1889.
The Sitter on the Rail and other poems. Christchurch: Simpson and Williams, 1891.
From the Maori Sea. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1908.
Land of the Morning. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1909.
The Bride of the Rivers and other verses. Christchurch: Simpson and Williams, 1926.
Vigil. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1935
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Jessie Mackay Poems
A Folk Song
I came to your town, my love, And you were away, away! I said "She is with the Queen's maidens: They tarry long at their play.
October in New Zealand
O JUNE has her diamonds, her diamonds of sheen, Meet for a queen’s neck, if Death had e’er a queen! June has her blue days, jewels of delight,
Song of the Driftweed
HERE’S to the home that was never, never ours! Toast it full and fairly when the winter lowers. Speak ye low, my merry men, sitting at your ease; Harken to the homeless Drift in the roaring seas!
The Burial of Sir John Mackenzie
(1901) They played him home to the House of Stones All the way, all the way,
IN Ortygia the Dawn land the old gods dwell, And the silver’s yet a-quiver on the old wizard well By the milk-white walls of the Temple of the Moon, Where the Dawn Maids hallow the red gods’ tune,
Dunedin in the Gloaming
Like a black, enamoured King whispered low the thunder To the lights of Roslyn, terraced far asunder: Hovered low the sister cloud in wild, warm wonder.
The Grey Company
O the grey, grey company Of the pallid dawn! O the ghostly faces, Ashen-like and drawn!
Rona in the Moon
Rona, Rona, sister olden,- Rona in the moon! You'll never break your prison golden,- Never, late or soon!
A Folk Song
I came to your town, my love,
And you were away, away!
I said "She is with the Queen's maidens:
They tarry long at their play.
They are stringing her words like pearls
To throw to the dukes and earls."
But O, the pity!
I had but a morn of windy red
To come to the town where you were bred,