Not a moment goes by
that I see you proper :
befit in tropical fern cloak ; a royal sunset
from purple streak’d Ranganui ;
peaks alight with unfathomable age
drifts and shades of wisdom ; a thousand mirror
words that instinct rise but I do not understand
my mind too full, my heart too far.
When I see you, Tititea,
I see a challenge.
Ngauruhoe ; Tongariro ; a mission, a claim, as if
I could inherit your majesty
by simple exertion ; as if
I could witness the extent of your glory
from this serpentine shelf. How silly
it all must seem to you, how trivial!
how fleeting! A fern branch falls :
a generation passes. Another falls
and the continents trade places!
Motupohue, your knotted roots surpass my feet,
I step aside for rocks and felled heroes. The erotic scent
of surface decay encircles, reminding me
of my own holy doom. A vine
ensnares my ankle ; I trip
and catch myself against your everlasting rock face.
The slippery moss intertwines with my fingers
and I shake and feel small :
and I do not feel scorn.
No, not from you, O Mountain
From you I feel neither distaste
nor impatience. I feel no pity–
you stand tall above the human errors.
So clearly can you speak.
Not a moment passes that I see you proper–
human folly at its highest.
Mehemea ka tuohu ahau me maunga teitei.
If I should bow my head, let it be to a high mountain.