No Ordinary Sun by Hone Tuwhare. 

 

Inspired by the discussion here, I thought I'd share this with you (because if I go down the rabbit hole of making the list I mention, I may not come up for air for days :)

 

This is one of NZ's most famous poets, and probably his most famous poem, beautifully recited and set to some wonderful graphic art, by Kahu Tuwhare (who I don't know for sure, but I suspect is probably related to Hone).

 

In 1946, a young Hone Tuwhare was stationed in Japan as part of the British Occupation Forces, and travelled through Hiroshima to see first hand the devastation. In 1964, this poem was published, and it's been a call to action for anti-nuclear activists in NZ for a long time.

 

Which is a big deal in New Zealand, I can well remember the standoff between the NZ police boats and the huuuuge US Navy warship (The USS Buchanan) attempting to enter harbour in 1985. The US policy to neither confirm or deny the presence of nuclear warheads on it's ships, meant that NZ refused to allow it to enter, leading to the suspension of the ANZUS mutual defence treaty between Australia, NZ, and the USA. For a good decade or more, relations between the USA and NZ were very very cool.

 

We felt very small, against the whole world that day. And very brave. A tiny tiny country in the middle of nowhere, standing up to the greatest superpower the world has ever seen.

 

And I heard this poem many times during that period.

 

NZ is to this day a nuclear free zone, including all it's territorial waters. 

 

No Ordinary Sun

Tree let your arms fall:
raise them not sharply in supplication
to the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and
resiliance for this is no mere axe
to blunt nor fire to smother.

Your sap shall not rise again
to the moons pull.
No more incline a deferential head
to the wind's talk, or stir
to the tickle of coursing rain.

Your former shaginess shall not be
wreathed with the delightful flight
of birds nor shield
nor cool the adour 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.

O tree
in the shadowless mountains
the white plains and
the drab sea floor
your end at last is written

http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/page/uss-%26lt%3Bem%26gt%3Bbuchanan%26lt%3B/em%26gt%3B-refused-entry-nz - An article with a little more background into the Buchanan incident