Tree let your arms fall:
raise them not sharply in supplication
to the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and
resilience for this is no mere axe
to blunt nor fire to smother.
Your sap shall not rise again
to the moon’s pull.
No more incline a deferential head
to the wind’s talk, or stir
to the tickle of coursing rain.
Your former shagginess shall not be
wreathed with the delightful flight
of birds nor shield
nor cool the ardour of unheeding
lovers from the monstrous sun.
Tree let your naked arms fall
nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.
This is no gallant monsoon’s flash,
no dashing trade wind’s blast.
The fading green of your magic
emanations shall not make pure again
these polluted skies . . . for this
is no ordinary sun.
in the shadowless mountains
the white plains an
the drab sea floor
your end at last is written.
What’s your full name? Corporal Tofulung
What is your native language? te reo Pākehā
What’s the poem that you will recite? 'No Ordinary Sun' (1964)
Hone Tuwhare (1922 - 2008)
Ngāpuhi tribe (hapu Ngāti Korokoro, Ngāti Tautahi, Te Popoto, Uri-o-hau)
Why did you choose that particular poem?
Hone Tuwhare was a Māori poet who wrote in te reo Pākehā, but from a Māori perspective. 'No Ordinary Sun' is his most famous poem, and perhaps an obvious choice. It is a protest against nuclear testing in the South Pacific that was happening at the time.
I feel that it is still relevant today to all of us who live under the shadow of climate change - islands disappear under the sea while the Great Pacific Garbage Patch grows bigger.
The Runit Dome in the Marshall islands AKA 'The Tomb' is estimated to be 85,000 m3 of radioactive debris stashed in a (USA) bomb crator and covered by concrete... at sea level.