Jessie Mackay

(1864 - 1938 / Rakaia Gorge)

The Burial of Sir John Mackenzie


(1901)

They played him home to the House of Stones
   All the way, all the way,
To his grave in the sound of the winter sea:
   The sky was dour, the sky was gray.
They played him home with the chieftain's dirge,
Till the wail was wed to the rolling surge,
They played him home with a sorrowful will
To his grave at the foot of the Holy Hill
   And the pipes went mourning all the way.

Strong hands that had struck for right
   All the day, all the day,
Folded now in the dark of earth,
   Veiled dawn of the upper way!
Strong hands that struck with his
From days that were to the day that is
Carry him now from the house of woe
To ride the way the Chief must go:
   And his peers went mourning all the way.

Son and brother at his right hand
   All the way, all the way!
And O for them and O for her
   Who stayed within, the dowie day!
Son and brother and near of kin
Go out with the chief who never comes in!
And of all who loved him far and near
'Twas the nearest most who held him dear --
   And his kin went mourning all the way!

The clan went on with the pipes before
   All the way, all the way;
A wider clan than ever he knew
   Followed him home that dowie day.
And who were they of the wider clan?
The landless man and the no man's man,
The man that lacked and the man unlearned,
The man that lived but as he earned --
   And the clan went mourning all the way.

The heart of New Zealand went beside
   All the way, all the way,
To the resting-place of her Highland Chief;
   Much she thought she could not say;
He found her a land of many domains,
Maiden forest and fallow plains --
He left her a land of many homes,
The pearl of the world where the sea wind roams,
   And New Zealand went mourning all the way.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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