(Tribute Poem to Sir Edmund Hillary)
Out of the Long White Cloud a star did rise
The great historic moment was unfurled
Everywhere people got a great surprise
It was the time of a war weary world.
Go back in time to the Empire age
Men vowed to sink each foreign ship and barge
When those seafaring guys plundered with rage
They made their royal Kingdoms very large.
The enemies laid waste with armoured trucks
The extreme dislike for Jews was profound
In the world everywhere was in a flux
Hitler’s atrocities in hell are found.
Britain did rise to world supremacy
In many areas it came with fame
Traders made heaps, the aristocracy
In time they paid the price the waiting game.
Such mortals with selfish goals in the plan
The thrills of exploration filled the head
Perhaps it was the point where it began
Those folks that satisfied themselves, we read.
Yes, each adventurer had a grand name
Under the sea and mountains in the sky
In search of bounteous booty to claim
Arrogance caused a few of them to die.
Many of them thought of their quid pro quo
Colossal quests in the mind these did swell
Driven all too well by Hunt, they did go
Venturous stories they never did tell.
By George! “Because it is there” one did say
Mallory said in nineteen twenty-four
Atlas, little did they know it did play!
Those words were echoed many times before.
The Industrial Revolution boomed
Yea, she remained the workshop of the world
Much civil unrest on her head resumed
In far flung colonies disorder swirled.
Britain rode high the waves but not for long
The bull in her china shop, stopped to view
Constant battle raged to correct the wrong
She bit off more than she could ever chew.
The jewels on the Crown have lost their sparks
The balance of power is shifting fast
Germany is scoring too many marks
Those Yankees are sure the trend would not last.
No solid rock not even Gibraltar
Britannia is in the twilight zone
Aristocrats still think it is bizarre
Humble folks now speak with a peerage tone.
War was in every place around the globe
England fought tooth and nail to keep her flag
Sweet Edward discarded his royal robe
Loved the game that bore a Hollywood tag!
George the Sixth had firm determination
He showed that he was no regal rookie
Took with him no form of trepidation
He held fast the flaky crumbling cookie.
He was not a graduate from Eton
Yea, he stammered and sometimes he would pause
His “hard knocks” record still stands unbeaten
This stylish King gained much worldwide applause.
In his new clothes George the Sixth spoke on air
His voice did flow from north, south, east and west
On topics his subjects wanted to hear
Those royal talks were the first and the best.
His speeches had a melodious drone
No one believed that it would be that way
Fragile though in health he sat on the Thrown
To George they listened ‘cause he was okay.
We shall teach subjects to think on their feet
With brawn and brain we shall again have sway
Reform or else we all ached from defeat
Diplomacy shall keep those foes at bay.
Like manna from on high his words did fall
It was on the Thrown where it all began
Caused his subjects to stand with heads up tall
He respected the dignity of man.
For fifteen years he did rule to a tee
In gorgeous sets of five unbrokenly
His slaves were freed amid the jubilee
The Crown regained honour and dignity.
The Crown’s indivisibility dies
Britannia’s flag quivered at half-staff
In the whole realm tears fell with their goodbyes
Lizzy wears the mantle on his behalf.
His unsparing devotion you have seen
In Carlton Gardens stands his golden head
In a world of change, said the young, new Queen
His phoenix rises in me with wings spread.
It soars above more splendid than before
Many good things were never left to fate
The Commonwealth is knocking at the door
The Wealth of Nations we all shall create.
Justice comes with self-determination
In Sovereign realms they have independence
Technology joins the exploration
Shine these bright diamonds of transcendence.
Near Papakura Olympic-sized spa
Pohutukawa trees sway in the breeze
Top of Red Hill there stands the Maori Pa
In full view are hives made by honeybees.
Hear this story for crying out real loud
In Aotearoa Lizzy is their Queen
It has caused much hype and buzz in the crowd
A dreamer talks to bees at seventeen.
As one goes south of the City of Sails
Into Tuakau, Te Ika a Mauri
This dreamer has many travails and tales
He is a pakeha and not Maori.
He was born in the winter of July
Lives at home with his lovely wife, Louise
He is shy, lean and reads a lot this guy
It was rumoured that he talked much to bees.
Found on the peaks of Aotearoa
Man made of steel like the mahogany
He dug, clung and did climb in the flora
He walked the Hills of the Kohekohe.
Many days he tramped the forested hills
Bang! Bang! A branch of a tree snapped and fell
One day in the countryside filled with thrills
He did sip brand tea in a cup from Bell.
They told him that his statue would stand tall
These worker bees make hives in floral trees
They said he would stand in Orewa’s Mall
He remembered prophetic chats with pleas.
Think of the Beatitudes as you grow
Humble be and to you they will adore
Generously from the heart let them flow
Remember your vow, now and ever more.
You have become a great part of our lives
Up and up the huge mountain you must soar
Take with you honey that flows from our hives
And good luck dearest friend as you explore.
The exchange of emotions was intense
He now must remember the golden rule
His beekeeping has become a past tense
They knew he would be back before the Yule.
Next day, Ed took off for the long journey
Full of courage, resolve and nerves of steel
On his back, a jar of Tuakau honey
The fear of the unknown, he did conceal.
He and his Sherpa guide before the mount
They both looked at the giant in the sky
Thought of the many steps they each must count
The climb stands at eight thousand meters high.
They dreamed with a useful purpose in mind
No selfish behaviour was in their bones
This vision they made real for all mankind
They judged people never by their skin tones.
There is the challenge they now saw ahead
Bonded by their goal, air, ice, wind and hell
Edmund and Tenzing clung like they were wed
They hoped their travails they themselves would tell.
With care they avoided many missteps
Climbed the ninety-one kilometres left
Up the Third Pole they trudged with measured steps
They reached the peak of the mountain with deft.
Their four feet were the first to ever rest
With knees bent in praise they have crossed the bar
Edmund and Sherpa stood on Mount Everest
Drops of Taukau honey fell from the jar.
Sir Edmund Hillary on the New Zealand Five Dollar Note
Up on their feet the two stood to survey
Safely those two from the mountain came down
The new land was too cold for them to stay
With gladness their faces wore not a frown.
We do know that his quest bears true story
No task is too hard for us to fulfill
Let’s all make good pages in history
It shows what can be achieved with the will.
We heard about Hillary and Norgay
They are from a common stock not elite
Conquered the deadliest peak in their way
Says any challenge we for sure can beat!
Still in death, Edmund Hillary gives all
His success code he has carved on the slate
This Kiwi inspires and does enthral
All! Bradley and Inglis did emulate.
(Composed in New Zealand/Summer 2004)
“Tuakau Honey Jar First to Ever Rest” was composed during my 2004-2005 stay in New Zealand. In North Island a statue of Sir Edmund Hillary, the mountaineer stands at Orewa. This statue of him brought back memories of the Everest expedition while I was a pupil in elementary school. Still touched by this great Kiwi, I seized the opportunity to compose this epic poem.
Of the three epic poems in "Poetry For All Seasons: Poems, Forms and Styles", “Tuakau Honey Jar First to Ever Rest” is the longest by way of having 44 stanzas. The historical events of the poem run the time span 1500-2007. The central theme of the poem is that there is an “Everest” in everyone’s life that can be conquered when all ten tenets for human living and conduct are omnipresent in any dreamer.
Stanza 1 provides as it were an introduction or prologue to the plot.
Stanza 2 gives a snippet of the Golden Age of Piracy (Piracy on the High Seas)
Stanza 3 provides a quick glimpse of the effects of World Wars I and II.
Stanza 4 is where we get an insight into the expansionists’ policies of Great Britain.
Stanzas 5, 6, 7, and 8 all point to the fact that peace follows when war ends. People become elated and look for enjoyable pursuits. In this case, exploration became the fore, in diverse ways as shown in these stanzas.
Stanzas 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 focus on some of the causes that brought about The decline of the British Monarchy.
Stanzas 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 give a picture of how the Monarchy regained its popularity due to the doings of George VI. The policies of this period were referred to as “The Monarchy’s Brand New Clothes” because of the paradigm shift in politics instituted by the tenacity of King
Stanzas 21, 22, 23 and 24 chronicle the death of George VI, the Coronation of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. We see in these verses where the indivisibility concept carved out by the late king gave way to a new concept of the rise of the Commonwealth as we know it now under the new Queen (Elizabeth 11).
Stanzas 25 through 34 give insight into important events that took place during the decades of Queen Elizabeth II. As a young Queen on the Thrown, many British colonies gained Independence from Great Britain. Now playing on words here in this epic poem, Queen of overseas colonies, queen as in a colony of bees is part of the plot for the epic poem to emerge in the form of a legend created around the man whom the bees befriended because his beekeeping skills were impeccable. The Queen of the Colonies conferred on him “Sir”. The queen of the bees gave him a good luck charm (a jar filled with Tuakau honey). The legend goes like this:
During the time when Britannia ruled the waves a man, from Taukau, a place in the British colony in Aotearoa (New Zealand) had many dreams, which he was shy to reveal to others. So he took long walks into the country side and talked to the bees about his dreams. He found an eager listening buzz among the bees, so he told them what he wished for; the first man to reach the highest peak on earth. The bees had a dream as well, which was that everyone should enjoy the sweetness of life (honey). So the bees told the dreamer that they would help him knock the bastard off (that is, the difficulties the dreamer would be confronted with in his thriving to make his vision come true) because his work of keeping their home has been admirable. They would provide him with hovering wings, nerves of steel and megabytes of motivation but he must first accept certain conditions as laid out in the ten tenets listed on the honey jar. The bees were quick to inform him that he would encounter many hardships in his path all laid out before him like the beehive spiralling around him. He would undergo a baptism of earth, heat, rain, wind and ice.
The bees instructed him that the honey jar must only be opened when he reached his quest in the presence of a Sherpa and along with the gifts the Sherpa would offer to the gods of earth, wind, fire, water and consciousness then he should add his gift of honey from the jar thus ensuring his safe return to earth as the ambassador extraordinaire for all colonies. Thus the bees hinted to him that he would be knighted by the Queen. They continued with their prophetic statement that from every corner of the earth all people would know that because of the goodness found in Tuakau and honey from a jar so small there would be no mountain too high, hill or peak too steep, which they would not be able to conquer. All of this would result from him because he, as their inspirational hero would reveal to them by his behaviour the ten-tenets for successful living on earth. So the bees buzzed in the dreamer’s ears these ten-tenets:
1. Be a dreamer with a purpose and change the dream into reality
2. Be a nature lover and protect the environment
3. Be patient and mindful
4. Be courageous and resourceful
5. Be compassionate without showing shame
6. Be reflective and flexible
7. Be truthful and trustworthy
8. Be respectful and be a good listener
9. Be ever so humble with determination
10. Be loyal to any cause that is good
These must be imprinted on the heart for success to be achieved because they are all interrelated and feed on each other.
Stanzas 35 through 40 give an account of his ascent into the Himalayan air with his guide.
Stanza 41 is about his successful decent with his guide.
Stanzas 42 through 44 point to the fact that everybody, irrespective of the status in life, we have in some way an Everest to climb. All that is needed to overcome these challenges are guts, drive and faith in the Omnipotent as demonstrated by this great mountaineer. Then success is assured.
I'm sadden on learning of the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, this global hero. Happy to know that his memory forever lives. We are all beneficiaries of the greatness of this inspirational hero. My condolences go out to his family and to the people of New Zealand, the country I love so very much in so many ways.
(Barbados, Thursday, January 10, 2008/11:26 PM)