Poem introduction

To reach Dante's earthly paradise in the Garden of Eden, you must climb the nine circles of Mount Purgatory to the top. I've imagined the tor at Torbay, North Shore City, Auckland as representing Mount Purgatory. A local Maori myth has a young woman waiting for the return of her lover as she sits on the tor watching the sea. Paua is a New Zealand shellfish with a highly iridescent shell.

Beatus

Beatus

There you are Beatus ―
grey star on a dusky scarf
the moon halved by a cloud
& us sun-bathing in your palm -
airy, toi-toi, blond feathers
staked like javelins
thrown to mark
a harbour - you are
the harbour & the yachts
in full light at full tilt - or

Orion, sword upside-down
spread-eagled on night blue -
you're the ninth step
of the ninth circle round
the tor, where a girl plaits
& waits for sight of your canoe,
paua eyes on the masthead gleaming
up from under as do those
of swordfish or marlin
or of a sea-god leaping.


from Dante's Heaven (Puriri Press, 2006), copyright © Jan Kemp 2006, used by permission of the author

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Jan Kemp

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1Puriri

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2Hexandra in recess

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3Master of Ceremonies

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4Poem for R A K Mason (1905 - 1971)

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5Night Poem

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6Old Railway Guard

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7Turkey Talk

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8In golden smock, walking

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9Down the first road

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10West Coast town

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11Pohutukawa

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12Walking a beach

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13Atalanta

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14Melanion on the waterfront

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15Chagall windows, Fraumunster, Zurich

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16To my father, M.H.K.

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17Hong Kong sounds

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18The other hemisphere

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19The dance of hemispheres

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20Father's metamorphosis

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21Sky crosses, Singapore

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22At Kikowhakerere Bay

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23The terrible angel

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24Truth

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25Song of Noah's wife

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26The Ballad of Donna Quixote

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27Ship

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28Wedding / Naming / Bells

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29Snow or Alles ist klar

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30Centuries

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31Crux Australis - Te Paki o Autahi - Southern Cross

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32Dante's 'heaven'

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33'We are all newcomers'

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34Our Paradise

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35'Naked ladies' near Otama Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

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36A pukeko's trip south

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37Swimming

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38Bowl spoon table

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39Best friends

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40A childhood secret

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41Glance

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42On news of a poet's death: I II IV

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43Someone kissed me

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44E la selva oscura, non c'e?

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45He reads his poem aloud

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46Being Beatrice

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47Beatus

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48crossing fields

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49Swiss apple

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50Cornish hymn

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51on Shepherd's Hill

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52blasted harvest

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53Millet's L'Angelus

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54Red Lamp

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55Sue sewing

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56Chronoclocking

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