Jessie MACKAY 1864 — 1938

We shall have the verse of Miss Jessie Mackay, which is sometimes so good and sometimes so bad.

Wanganui Chronicle, 29 July 1909, Page 2 By Frank Morton
We have spring poems in New Zealand, as we have in other parts of the world. You must not mistake me. Spring poets do not necessarily write of spring: it is merely the pulse of spring that stirs them, whether they will or no. There is in all their blood a something odd that once a year gets up and makes wild noises. Then the suburbs are perturbed, and all the editors are sorry. I am expecting the new crop of the already known in a day or two, if the weather holds. We shall have the verse of of Miss Jessie Mackay, which is sometimes so good and sometimes so bad. For myself, I have no special season. In my blood at least it is always spring. With autumn in my falling hair and winter in my bones, my blood still ripples carols to the morning and the moon. I suppose it's a sort of weakness. Anyhow, it keeps a man doggedly younger than he ought to be according to the calendar. I suppose a man can only gauge other peoples hopes and desires in the light of his own experiences. If I were you, then, I wouldn't grow old. You needn't, and the world has no use for the aged.

She loved the warm hills of South Canterbury, N.Z. 

Photo taken by me. "Holmwood" Te Moana.

The sky was a smother
Of flame and commotion,
Low leaped the red fringes
To harass the mountains.

Ashburton Guardian, 18 December 1911, Page 6 Land of the Morning
Jessie Mackay, another Canterbury poetess, has sung of the work of the early settlers thus:

In each other's faces
Looked the pioneers;
Drank the wine of courage
All their battle years.
For their, weary sowing
Through the world wide,
Green they saw the harvest
Ere the day they died.

Jessie MACKAY’s father was a shepherd and then a manager of sheep farms in Canterbury. Jessie never married. She was a primary school teacher, contributor to the Otago Witness and ‘lady editor’ of the Canterbury Times. Jessie and her sister Georgina resided in Christchurch on the Cashmere Hills, and from here she forged a living as a poet and ladies editor writing beautiful and thrilling poem or writing bad poetry.  She was active in the women’s franchise movement, the National Council of Women. However, she was best known as a poet.  Most of her poems about New Zealand are general, and not local, in tone. She is described as as a well known poet and journalist, defender of racial minorities, advocate of Irish and Scottish Home Rule, and of Liberalism, feminism, and internationalism. 

A SONG OF SOUTH CANTERBURY

Long you drove the landward furrow,
Into the brown and virgin blankness,
Daring, trusting, eve and morn.
Fair and fairest of the daughters,
Turn you, praised of garth and garden,
Gold-girdled in the corn!

Lo, in brooding winds of summer,
Purple fruity blooms of glory
Veil your remembered hills.
Lo, the tiering guardian ranges,
Solemn ring of blue that watches
Bright garth and busy mills!

Thousand yeoman valleys greet you,
Brown in Hertha's honest homespun:
Sheer, shadowed gorges deep,
Breasted hill and vapoury upland
Hymn you in the spate and lull you
With the myriad-bleat of sheep.

Seek them by the lake and river,
Far afield in many a province:
Give you the gold of praise.
Ah! and the mounds of weeping!
Lay the quiet lilies over.
White till the Day of days!

In your snows and in your summers,
In your waking, in your sleeping,
God guard the heart of you!
Heaven fast the towers you fashion
Deep till the doom of all things,
Ay, till the earth be new!


Jessie Mackay
Timaru Herald 11 June 1914 pg9

Born on 15 December 1864 at 'Double Hill' Station, on the Rakaia, in a mud hut, where her father, Robert Mackay, was manager before going to Raincliff Station. Later he managed "Opuha Gorge."  Jessie spent practically all her life in Canterbury and her early education was at home and by a young governess at Raincliff, then in Christchurch at the Normal School and later to a Training College. She loved to read and her father, a Presbyterian, and fierce of his Scottish pride had a strong influence on Jessie's ideas and character. In 1887 Miss Mackay, a school teacher, was appointed to the Kakahu Bush School where she remained for three years, she was the first school teacher to live in the Kakahu School House (demolished in 1972) with Eva Meredith, who later became a doctor in England. She then became the first teacher at the newly-opened Ashwick Flat school in 1893. She gave up teaching for writing and wrote eight books. Jessie was a contributor of poems to magazines and newspapers. At the aged of thirteen she contributed poetry to the Canterbury Times
Her first book of poems, The Spirit of the Rangatira and Other Ballads was published in 1889
Te Wanahu Corner
The Sitter on the Rails in 1891
New Zealand rhymes, old and new 1907
From the Maori Sea in 1908
Land of the Morning Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs 1909 & in 1928 illustrated by Dagmar Huie. 3s 6d
Poems of Jessie Mackay by Jessie Mackay 1911
Tales of the Maori: Jessie Mackay; G M Richardson; C D Hardie Publisher: Auckland, N.Z. : Whitcombe and Tombs, 1̜924.
The Bride of the Rivers and other verses  Christchurch, Simpson & Williams 1926.
Vigil  Auckland, Whitcombe & Tombs 1935

Jessie was the lady editor for the Canterbury Times for ten years and worked for various causes with great enthusiasm - Woman's Rights, prohibition. 
In 1896 Miss Jessie Mackay recited an original poem entitled "The battle march of the women" at a convention of certain enthusiastic political ladies at Christchurch. In 1936 she was granted a pension for literacy work and placed on the civil list. Miss Mackay wrote 'The Sheep Man's Prayer'  but a fortnight before her death.  Jessie is buried in the Waimairi Cemetery, on Grahams Road, Christchurch and the quotation on her headstone "Lord of the sheep in the upland ways have mercy on thy flocks. " is taken from the first and last lines of that poem. 

A SHEEP MAN'S PRAYER

Lord of the sheep in the upland ways,
The snow locked plains and rocks
And the mazy, dazzling drift that kills,
Have mercy on thy flocks
Lord of the men that fear and seek,
Thyself went seeking too,
For frozen hearts in a drift of sin
Fight thou our battle through!
Lord, hear the saddest wind on earth,
The one that moans and mocks
The mid-most mirk of the shepherd's night
Have mercy on thy flocks.

Jessie Mackay

Mrs Robert Mackay (1846-1/2/1897)

Elizabeth Ormiston was born in Scotland, probably in Sutherland between 1842 and 1847, the daughter of Mary McKenzie and Walter Ormiston, a shepherd. She married Robert Mackay, a Scottish highlander, a shepherd, at Dalharald, Strathnaver, Sutherland, on 29 August 1862; they were to have at least nine children. Robert was born c. 1839. In 1863 the Mackay's emigrated to New Zealand with their son Walter on the Brothers Pride. Epidemics swept the ship and 44 passengers died before the vessel arrived at Lyttelton in December. While they were staying at the immigration barracks, Walter died. Brothers Pride arrived Lyttelton December 10th 1863. The vessel left London 25th July. Assisted immigrants:
Robert McKay, 24, from Sutherland, shepherd. Wife, Elizabeth, 21. Walter, son, 7 months.

Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database
Surname: Mackay
First name(s): Unknown
Date of death & burial: Friday, 1 January 1864
Addington Cemetery
Block number: 0 Plot number: 77B

Children of Elizabeth and Robert Mackay (incomplete)
Walter died 1 January 1864
Jessie born 15 December1864 and died 23 August 1938 in ChCh
Walter Ormiston MacKay b. 1867 married Christina Flora Menzies in 7 Nov. 1894, died 1928 and buried at Milton and m. Alice Mary Griffiths in 1931. Walter was a woolclasser. He d. in 1948 aged82.
Eleanor (Nell) born 1871 married William Dixon of Cattle Valley  in 1893. Died 25 August1952 (Taihape).
Isabella Esther (Tibby) born 1876. Married Richard Arthur Dixon also of Cattle Valley 12 July 1897. Brother of William. Died 24 April 1955 (Woodbury)
John born 1873 never married. He was deaf and worked of stations. Died Fairlie 4 August 1950
Herbert (Scot) born 18 December 1879. Lived on a farm in the King Country, North Island. His wife was Alice Muirson. She was from ChCh. They married in 1915. He died 8 September 1966 (Purewa) aged 88.
Agnes Emily b. 1st April 1882. Unmarried. Died 23 March 1948 in ChCh.
Georgina 11 February 1885. Died 9 March 1956 aged 71. She was a secretary. ChCh. Unmarried. Did not marry but had a child during World War One who was adopted by her sister Jessie (name unknown).

Otago Witness 5 September 1889, Page 29 MEMORIES.
The old house in the garden
Stood silent in the shade,
And on the gravelled pathway
Mingled light and shadow played.

I saw the schoolroom windows
Wide open to the air,
But the faces of the scholars
I saw no longer there.

The poor little lonely collie
Was sitting by the door,
Looking in vain for his playmates,
Who would return no more.

They walked not in the garden,
They played not in the hall,
But shadow and silence and sadness
Hung darkly over all.

The birds may sing in the bushes
In a sweet familiar tone,
But the voices of the scholars
Will be heard in dreams alone.

Oh I well, the boy beside me
Could not properly understand
Why closer in mine, still closer,
I pressed his warm, yielding hand

Where are those scholars so happy
And why do the birds in the trees
Sing just as gaily as ever
When I am so ill at ease?

When our last work here is done,
In heaven we all shall stand,
And the severed brothers and sisters
Shall clasp a loving hand.

But still in this body pent,
Absent from Him I roam
Yet nightly pitch my shifting tent,
A day's march nearer home.

—John Mackay. Raincliff August 10.

Otago Witness 4 December 1890, Page 39
Dear Dot,— I have a pretty new doll, which I call Isabel. Sometimes, when it is very hot, we go to the river to bathe. We have some lovely roses in our garden just now. The strawberries and cherries are getting ripe. The cherry birds (without wings) are very busy just now. We have got a lot of horses, but I can't ride. My sister has a kitten she wants a name for it. Would you please give her a name for it. This is a pretty place, and we have a lovely garden. — Yours truly, Emily Mackay. Raincliff, November 26. [Call the kitten Tina.— Dot.]

Timaru Herald, 20 March 1897, Page 2
Thomas Palmer, of Temuka, Alexander Bissett, of Orari, Thomas Priest, of Pareora, and Walter Ormiston Mackay, of Temuka, have been appointed officers under the Fisheries Conservation Act for the South Canterbury district for the counties of Mackenzie, Geraldine and Levels.

NZ Truth 6 December 1928, Page 17 A Writer's Sister
CHRISTCHURCH knew Miss Ness Mackay some years ago when she was an enthusiastic believer in the eurhythmic dancing. Since than, this young sister of Jessie Mackay, one of New Zealand's best-known poetic people, has been in Sydney, doing a flicker among the rising stars of the literary world, and helping just a little to keep them rising. Ness is a journalist herself, contributor to various magazines and papers, while she has also sat high up in the very uncomfortable Ladies' Press Gallery of Wellington Parliament. The year before an election and the year after, these being the most interesting periods, usually see a brown-haired little lady perched up aloft, propping her eyelids up like David Copperfield when the debates are spun out to more than usually ungodly hours. Modern in many ways, Miss Mackay is an opponent of bills that are on the negative side those tending to interfere with the normal life of the people. She is no friend to the Child Welfare Act, and is one of the few moderns left who believe in genuine independence. Miss Mackay is living, now, in Auckland, where many of Sister Jessie's tuneful little poems were written. She belongs, up there, to a legion of societies and clubs, most of them ready to keep a sympathetic eye on the ways of the writing woman. A very pleasant, if quiet, member of the literary fraternity.  

Timaru Herald, 3 February 1897, Page 2
MACKAY. At Trentham, Fairlie, on the 1st of February, Elizabeth Ormiston, beloved wife of Robert Mackay, in her 50th year.

Star 5 February 1897, Page 4
The Secretary was instructed to forward to Miss Jessie Mackay a letter of sympathy and condolence on the loss she has recently sustained in the death of her mother.

Timaru Herald, 19 May 1897, Page 2 Marriage
DIXON — Mackay — On the 12th May, at St. Columba Church, Fairlie, by the Rev. W. J. Comrie, Richard Arthur, second son of John William Dixon, Caistor, Lincolnshire, to Isabel Esther, third daughter of Robert Mackay, Trentham. [Isabella Esther Dixon, aged 79 and her husband Richard Arthur Dixon, aged 83, both died in 1955. Fanny Agusta Elizabeth Dixon was born in 1898.]

Timaru Herald, 11 August 1898, Page 3 TRENTHAM ESTATE, NEAR FAIRLIE
Guinness  & LeCren have received instructions from Mr Robert Mackay to sell by Public Auction at their Rooms, Timaru, on Saturday, 27th Aug., 1898, At 2 o'clock, Trentham Estate, 1631 Acres, Wheat Growing Land, subdivided into 11 Paddocks, well fenced and watered, with the following improvements thereon splendid House 16 rooms, Woolshed, Stables, sheep Yards, and all necessary improvements plans of the property and all information from Mr Mackay, Raincliff, or the Auctioneers, Guinness  & LeCren. The above property is for absolute Sale, and the Auctioneers strongly advise buyers to inspect it before purchasing elsewhere.

Timaru Herald, 10 December 1898, Page 2
Messrs Guinness and LeCren report holding a clearing sale of live and dead stock on account of Mr Robert Mackay, at Trentham.

Timaru Herald, 7 May 1900, Page 4
The Mount Peel Road Board met on Friday last. There were present Messrs G. J. Dennistoun (chairman), R. Thew, B. E. H. Tripp, and O. S. Thomson. Tenders were accepted for horse feed, J. Wilson oats at 1s 10d, chaff at 1s 8d; F. Perham oats at 1s 7d. The clerk was instructed to forward the following letter to Mr Robert Mackay
Dear Mr Mackay,— It is with extreme regret that we are losing you as a member of this Board, where you have done your duty loyally and conscientiously for 22 years. Although you have had to come a distance of 32 miles to our meetings, your attendance has been most regular, and we can assure you that your kindly presence will be much missed by the members of the Board. Signed by all the members.

Fairlie Cemetery
ELIZABETH ORMISTON  MACKAY
Age: 50 years
Date Deceased: 1/02/1897
Plot 52
Block: P3
Next of Kin ROBERT MACKAY (HUSBAND)
    ROBERT MACKAY
Age: 83 years Given Names: 
Date Deceased: 19/24
Plot 51
Block: P3
Next of Kin ELIZABETH MACKAY (WIFE)
 JOHN MACKAY
Age: 80 years
Interment Date: 7/08/1950
Occupation: GERALDINE
Cemetery: FAIRLIE Plot 1 Block: P8
Next of Kin MRS DIXON - SISTER

Evening Post, 23 August 1938, Page 11
One of the most honoured figures in New Zealand literature, Miss Jessie Mackay, died this morning at the age of 74.

Born at Rakaia Gorge, where her father had a sheep station, Miss Mackay spent the greater part of her life in Canterbury and found inspiration for much of her finest poetry in the foothills of the country where she was born. The publication of her volume of verse, "Land of the Morning," more than a quarter of a century ago was an important event in the history of New Zealand literature, containing as it did some of the noblest verse that has yet been inspired by the scenery and traditions .of this young country. For some years the late Miss Mackay taught at country schools in the Canterbury district and then turned to journalism, being lady editor of the one time "Canterbury Times" from 1908 to 1917. Her journalistic work was continued with a number of New Zealand and Australian papers and periodicals and with "Time, Tide" (London). In 1921-22 she paid a visit to Europe, continuing her writing and maintaining her keen interest in feminist work and the goal of Prohibition. Miss Mackay's interests were widely flung and diverse. She was a strong feminist and was connected with the first National Council of Women formed in New Zealand. Some idea of her broadminded viewpoint may be gained from the fact that she, a Presbyterian, was appointed, some years ago, to represent the Irish Home Rule Party at a conference at Paris. Later it was acknowledged that she was by far the most able of the three delegates sent from the Dominion. For some years past the late Miss Mackay had lived quietly at Cashmere Hills, Christchurch, but her pen was always ready to champion any just cause. Young writers and poets found in her a generous friend and critic and more, than one owes success to her assistance and advice. Her best known volume of verse is 'Land of the Morning" (1909), though she published several other volumes, including "Poems" (1910), and "The Bride of the Rivers" (1926). Her poems have been included in every anthology of New Zealand verse and in many Australian, British, and American anthologies. Though she was born in New Zealand Miss Mackay retained the Celtic note of her Highland forbears, and some of her poems, written in New Zealand, are quoted today in the Highlands of Scotland.

Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database
MacKay, Jessie
Date of death: Wednesday, 24 August 1938
Waimairi Cemetery pdf
Date of burial: Wednesday, 24 August 1938
Block number: PR7 Plot number: 30
Age: 74 years
Address: 16 McMillan Avenue, ChCh
    MacKay, Agnes Emily
Date of death & burial: Sunday, 23 May 1948
Waimairi Cemetery
Block number: PR7 Plot number: 30
Age: 66 years
Address: 122 Hackthorne Road, ChCh
MacKay, Georgina
Date of death & burial: Wednesday, 9 May 1956
Waimairi Cemetery
Block number: PR7 Plot number: 30
Age: 72 years
Address: 122 Hackthorne Road, ChCh

Evening Post, 20 October 1938, Page 18 Pen Women Meet
TRIBUTE TO JESSIE MACKAY

As a tribute to the memory of the well-known New Zealand writer, the late Jessie Mackay, the penwomen of the Lyceum Club held a literary afternoon recently in the club lounge, which was tastefully decorated with native flowers and Iceland poppies. The circle leader, Mrs. W. Bailey, who introduced the speaker for the afternoon. Mr. Johannes Andersen; briefly outlined the life and work of the writer, and spoke of the loss her passing had been to New Zealand generally. Many interesting sidelights on the character of the late writer were given by Mr. Andersen, who had been a personal friend for many years. He also read extracts from many of her poems. Mrs. D. A. Herbert sang two songs which had been composed by the late writer and had been set to music by her sister-in-law, Mrs. Alice Mackay: Mrs. Hardy and Mrs. Semple read some of Miss Mackay's poems, and Mrs. Grant gave a brief paper on her early life in Canterbury, where she was born. Poems which they had written and dedicated to the late Jessie Mackay, were lead by Miss F. Richardson and Mrs. S. V. Masters, all being members of the penwomen's circle. Thanks were, expressed to the speaker, the accompanist (Mrs. Howard Cook), and to all others who; contributed to the success of the afternoon. Tea was served and a general discussion followed.

Evening Post, 3 September 1938, Page 26 POET AND CRUSADER A TRIBUTE (Written for the "Evening Post" by Alan Mulgan)
Leaving great verse unto a little clan.  

Jessie Mackay was a passionate feminist, and one of her closest friends was Edith Searle Grossmann, who pursued the same ideal with equal strength of conviction. Jessie Mackay's political convictions were sufficiently indicated in "The Burial of Sir John McKenzie," which, besides being one of her best poems, is a footnote to history. Jessie Mackay was a poet who fought as a free-lance crusader. Jessie Mackay was inclined at times to wander rather further into the wood beyond the world than her readers could follow. She loved the archaic or local word, the allusion from Celtic song or story.

THE HIGHLAND SOUL. Jessie Mackay was born in the hill country of South Canterbury, and, if she had written nothing but "Spring Fires," that description of burning-off on tussock land, her name would live. While she took the world for her province, and especially what may be roughly called the Celtic world, she remained to the end a child of Canterbury. There was, however, nothing parochial about her; most of her poems about New Zealand are general, and not local, in tone. It is curious that a woman so unrobust physically and so much given to depicting refinements of beauty, should have written so vigorously about the Maori. In her "Maori War Song" and "The Noosing of the Sun God," she achieved a kind of success that has been reached by few, if any, men.

THE ENCOURAGER. Despite the deep disappointment brought to her by the failure of the Prohibition cause, her last years were probably her happiest. Her last volume was published only three years ago, and probably she left unpublished work. Two years ago she was granted a pension by the Government in recognition of her services to literature one of the first to be bestowed. Never was such a grant better deserved or received with fuller heart. She lived very quietly on the hills near Christchurch, in sight of her beloved Alps; time touched her to deeper serenity. And there she died, "And New Zealand went mourning all the way."  

Otago Witness 20 January 1898, Page 49
TO MISS JESSIE MACKAY

A song, a song, the pen would sing -
Its lilt both deep and cheery, oh!
With ink of muses best to ring
The notes of love that fondly cling
Like dewdrops to its dearie, oh!

In times gone by its theme was Sis,
Sweet May, and charming Bessie, oh
The wrongs of that, the rights of this,
Of peace, of war but now it's bliss,
Is Maori lands, fair Jessie, oh!

What better pen could e'er be found
Than hers to sketch the Maori, oh!
Whose legends all of weirdness sound,
From sacred dell to taboed mound
Where clouds' kiss the kaui, oh!

What truer song could lovers ask
To voice the heart's grand anthem, oh?
Could labour wish a softer basque
Or intellect a fonder task
Than, Jessie, ours can grant them, oh?

Then fill a glass of Friendship's wine,
Clear as Waimakariri, oh!
To toast our island home divine,
And with as fond breath a entwine
The less we love so dearly, oh

Dunedin. J. M.

Miss Jessie Mackay condemned expenditure on horse racing.

Evening Post, 3 May 1939, Page 16
Miss Mackay had, he said, been born of Highland parents in the backblocks of Canterbury, and had grown up at a time when the Dominion was thinking, in a timorous way, of developing a style and nationality of its own. Though not an immigrant, and by birth a New Zealander, Jessie MacKay was primarily a Celt, and it was essential to remember these facts in order to understand and appreciate her poetry. There was a contradiction in her nature which showed in her work. This was caused by two extraordinary forces in her character which "pulled" her. to a love of the past and yet gave her a great interest in the present and future. Her mind went back to ancient Celtic legends and traditions which she drew on, often by references in her poems, yet she had been most characteristically New Zealand in her work.  

Suggested reading:

Tera bio
South Canterbury, A Record of Settlement
  by Oliver Gillespie
Jessie Mackay - A women before her time. Kakahu WDFF  Margaret Chapman
Nellie
MacLeod wrote a biography of Jessie Mackay in 1955, The Voice on the wind. The Story of Jessie Mackay Covers her early years of teaching.
In Notable South Canterbury Women.
Aoraki Womens Resource Centre, Pleasant Point, 1993: 95-98. O'Leary, Pauline
Evening Post
, 11 August 1937, Page 16 An essay on "The Life of Jessie Mackay," written by Mrs. J. C. Andersen.
Auckland Star
, 3 June 1903, Page 2 "The Abolition of Barmaids," by Miss Jessie Mackay, was read by Miss A. J. Caley. This also was enthusiastically received.
Article and photograph published in NZ Free Lance, 23 Jun 1948, p 6.
Brave Days. Pioneer Women of New Zealand Published for Women's Division of NZ Farmers Union by Reed, Dunedin & Wellington 1939
An Anthology of Australian Verse
 - The Grey Company
The Noosing of the Sun God: A Maori Legend
by Jessie Mackay. Otago Witness online Dec. 5 1900 page 119
Jubilee History of South Canterbury by Johannes C. Anderson, printed in 1916 contains many poems including these by Jessie Mackay written about 1910.

Kiwa's Men : A Song of Departure  pg 532 
Spring Fires                      pg 534 
A Folk Song			  pg 534			
The Burial of Sir John Mackenzie  pg 535 	
The Call of the Upland Yule	  pg 535  
Strathnaver No More!		  pg 536-7  

Star 12 December 1907, Page 4
Spring Fires, I feel certain that I am reading a poem which must appeal to the heart and to the fancy. It first appeared in The "Otago Witness," and it is no doubt known and loved by many in Otago and in Canterbury. As a poem I should suppose that it is also possessed of high merit. The little poem contains only six verses, but each word in it appears a gem, ruby set in a chain of gleaming shimmering jewels. Contributed by Jessie Mackay :

The running rings of fire on the Canterbury hills,
Running, ringing, dying at the border of the snow,
Mad, young, seeking as a young thing wills,
The ever, ever buried, ever living long ago.

The soft running fire on the Canterbury hills,
Swinging low the censer of a tender heathenesse
To the dim Earth goddesses that quicken all the thrills,
When the heart's wine of August is dripping from the press!

The quiet bloom of haze on the Canterbury hills!
The fire, it is the moth that is winging to the snow!
Oh, pure, red moth, but the sweet white kills!
And we thrill again to watch you, but we know — we know!

The long yellow spurs on the Canterbury hills
To a moon of maiden promise waken once in all the year,
When the fires come again and the little tui trills,
And who will name or think on a January sere?

The lone, large flower of the Canterbury hills
On the slender ti-tree will hang her honeyed head
When the moon of fire has called her to the spurs and the rills,
Dim and strong and typical of tintless river-bed.
 

Otago Witness, 22 December 1891, Page 12
BRIDE OF DUNMORE. (Specially written for the Witness Christmas Number of 1891.) By Jessie Mackay

The eagle swoops to his eyrie,
The solan flies to shore ;
The wild bird is as nobly housed
As the Lord of high Dunmore.

It was all for faith and freedom
My sword I girded on,
And it is all for angel-truth
We to the hills have gone.

It is three days since. Love Marion,
You took the world's ban,
And rose from rail of altar
To follow a hunted man.

I have no gem or jewel
For new-made wife to wear,
But the white pearl of martyrdom
To glisten in your hair.

That pearl, you took it knowing,
And would not be denied
Dunmore's high-thoughted lady,
Its last and sainted bride.

The hill-cave is our castle,
The crag it is our keep,
The mosses and the bracken
Shall cradle us to sleep.

The stars shall be our sentinels ;
And to the heaven-floor
The mountain top is nearer
Than city or than moor.

Oh look, oh look, Love Marion !
The April morn of mist
Is mighty on the mountains,
And none but we have wist.

The clouds that hover earthward,
The raven wings of wrath
Arc white as seraph glory -
Upon the sunward path.

For them whose hounds are baying,
The storm ; for us, unrolled
The treasure of the rainbow,
The everlasting gold.

The pure thin drift is wreathing
About the summits seven ;
I think that we are dead, sweetheart,
And our souls on the hills of heaven.

 Raincliff, December 1891
 

Otago Witness 4 August 1892, Page 37

NEVER
So it's home at last to nestle
Where the river is borne in rills,
At the stern heart, the pure heart
Of the everlasting hills
But the call of the fountain falling,
The smile of the meadow green-
Will the light young feet be ever
Where once their way has been?
Never, never, never, never!
Up the bright valley of willows,
And down the dark way of the pines.

You home of the tender zephyr!
I know at the noon of night
The moon will linger a little
To bathe your buds in light.
When rose and rhododendron
Are dusk at even fall,
Will the hearts that twined around them
Be glad in their dreamy, thrall?
Never, never, never, never!
Up the broad walk of the aster,
And down the green road of the rose!

Low in the mountains' cradle,
Set as an emerald gem,
The forest of ages behind you,
A dark, sweet diadam!
The arms of the river around you
For love, as I love you too -
Will the eyes that drank your magic,
My valley, be closed in you?
Never, never, never, never!
By the great stone gates uncarven.
By the place where the rivers wed!

—Jessie Mackay. Raincliff, Pleasant Point, July 24.  

Otago Witness, 26 July 1894, Page 39
CORMAC BAN.

The black-hearted awesome hills,
They tempted Cormac Ban
To dreo his weird by the Eagle-scaur ;
An' the cruel snaw began.

The saft-winged, the cruel snaw!
Frae noon to mirk it fell ;
But where it fought an' vanquished him,
There's nane on earth can tell,

The drift haps his gowden heid,
The heid o' Cormac Ban ;
An' my heart' frozen like the burn
That yester morning ran.

The wide world's a winding sheet ;
There's neither bush nor lea :
The wide world's a winding sheet
To wrap my love an' me !

   Jessie Mackay. Fairlie, July 17.
 

Otago Witness, 6 August 1896, Page 41 FOR ARMENIA. TO THE WOMEN OF NEW ZEALAND.
["Can we not create a huge wave of public opinion that will rouse England to a sense of her duty? .... Cannot the women of Australasia unite in a monster petition to the British Government on behalf of their tortured and outraged Armenian" sisters ? " -Dolce A. Cabot.]

Wake ! awake, ye women of Zealandia !
 From' the hearth, from the city, from the lea;
Cry ye out for the burden of Armenia -
The burden ofthe.desert of the sea.

 Is it Mammon or Jehovah that ye worship?
Will you take the huckster hand and think it well?
The white Saxon hand that held the flambeau
To the red, high carnival of hell.

To the glozing of the He at San Stefano
 Will you set your seal of silence, and be calm,
While your brethren, betrayers of Armenia,
Are raising the Meisiah-mocking- psalm ?

The blood-wite is counting for Armenia
In heaven for a many hundred years ;
Like a river by the throne of the Eternal
Her martyr-blood is sanguining the spheres.

When the blood-wite iis reckoned for Armenia,
And Islam is bowing to the stroke ;
God help her in her paying - Christian England,
Who sold the Christian neck to bear the yoke.

Then, druids of a craven cult politic ;
Then leeches of the consol and the scrip.
In London at your very fetish altars .
Shall the seething cup be given to your lip!

Sweet women, cry ye out, or Celt or Saxon :
In this shame we have not either lot or park.
In the far, far islands of the morning
There lingers yet the soul of Lion Heart ,

"Out, out upon the years of peace and vileness
 When the blue and white, the boast of Britain's - flag.
Were swallowed in the red of San Stefano,
And its honour was a dust-bedabbled rag

"We will not bear the curse of Armenia
When the white Christ cometh to His own 
When the blood-wite is laid upon the Saxon
The idol and the fetish overthrown !

 Look out and see the women wards of England
On the ghastly mountain, coverless, forspent;
The lords of hell have risen and are watching ;
For Islam can teach them to torment !

Sweet women, men may bear it, but we cannot.
Cry ye out to the heavens, and be clear
Of the vileneas and the curse of acquiescence ;
Cry aloud and let the craven nations hear I

Jessie Mackay. -
Fairlie, S. Canterbury, July 1896.

Otago Witness 20 July 1899, Page 49
FAINT HEART, COLD HEART

Faint heart, cold heart,
Your chords are out of tune.
Ere March is told you're shivering cold;
You'll scarcely weather June.
Your only prayer an empty lair
By sunless tide and deep,
Where rolled in black the world's wrack
May shiver into sleep.

Strong heart, warm heart;
What? You've weathered June!
Though deadest leaves about your eaves
Have swirled a winter rune.
The mothering earth is near the birth;
The scabbard of the sun
Is thinning fast across the vast—
The aftermath's begun.

Strong heart, warm heart;
Lone lord of Fate
You sit the sun when all is done;
The proud world may wait.
Though pebble-grey it ran away,
The false fairy gold;
Your mine is out where the warriors shout
Over the waking wold.

Jessie Mackay  July 1899.  

Otago Witness, 14 May 1902, Page 59

GROWING AND GRIEF
All the world is growing, and there are two growings most grievous,
Yea, when the courses of summer of bud and of blossom bereave us 
Yea, when the searing of summer tells what the song of the brave meant 
One is the root of the tree that cleaveth the flag of the pavement,
Cracking its earthly environ that so it may live and not smother,
And growing beyond a loved one ay, that is the saddest and other!

 Jessie Mackay. Waimate, 1902.
 

Ashburton Guardian,  29 November 1909, Page 4
How many, I wonder, felt one glow of emotion when you told them that those hills which once harboured that cultured and curious genius Samuel Butler or that Jessie Mackay was born within our county. How few will it make them a buttonhole one other friend and change the tenor of their talk as to the weather, the crops, and the price of lamb. Oh, my masters, have we nothing else to love, to struggle for, than dollars. Get them—aye, honestly, if you can, but— get them. This cannot surely be your ideal. To come closer to your thinking. I can remember how short a time it seems since the tree stumps delayed one's movements in the streets of Palmerston North. But here—the centre of some of the most productive country in the world—what would you when a reporter interviewed some gentleman versed in such progressive matters as light, drainage, baths, etc.— matters of essential good to the community —what effect did it have? Has it stimulated our dormant faculties into creative action.

In 1907 Jessie wrote to an Australian about the two countries progressing at a different rate. 'Have you lived a year in N.Z., and not known that things dead to Australia are still "live" to us, at least, in our slow, cold faithful South Island?" "Now a mouse doesn't move across the Tasman sea but we shall know all about it"

Totara Valley, Nov. 2009

Evening Post, 26 July 1940, Page 11 DEATH OF MUSICIAN
FIRST WOMAN MUS. BAC. IN AUSTRALASIA

The death occurred on Monday, at her home in Fitzgerald Avenue, Christchurch, of Mrs. Alice Forrester Mackay [1870-1940], the first woman in Australia or New Zealand to graduate bachelor of music, and the eleventh woman in the British Isles to gain that honour, states "The Press." Sir Frederick Bridge cabled his congratulations on the excellent writing of the cantata for her degree. Mrs. Mackay was the wife of Mr. Walter Ormiston Mackay, a brother of the late Miss Jessie Mackay. Her father was the late Mr. Joseph Rowley, of the Lands and Survey Department, Christchurch, and her grandfather was the founder of the Christchurch Musical Union. Early in life Mrs. Mackay showed great talent as a pianist, and she studied under her aunt, Miss Mary Rowley, who was a pianist and singer of distinction. Mrs. Mackay was educated at the West Christchurch Girls' High School, and passed with honours to the Canterbury University, where a few years after her marriage to the late Mr. Donald McLean (Lagmhor) she gained her degree as bachelor of music. For some years she led a retired life, devoting her time to her two small girls, but she continued her musical compositions. Both she and the late Mr. McLean gave generously of time and money in helping public bodies, and it was Mr. McLean's cousin, the late Mr. Alan McLean, who bequeathed "Quamby" and "Holly Lea" to the women of Canterbury. After the death of her first husband, Mrs. Mackay went to live at Ashburton, where some years later she married Mr. John Forrester. During the last war she helped patriotic societies by playing at concerts, many of her selections being her own compositions with words written by the late Jessie Mackay. A lullaby, in which the two had collaborated, appeared in Lady Liverpool's gift book to raise funds for patriotic purposes. Another song, "One Flag, One Throne," published in London, had words written by Mr. J. Liddell Kelly, and was popular not only in the Dominion but in-other parts of the Empire. Mr. Forrester died shortly-after the war, and in 1931 his widow married Mr. W. O. Mackay. She leaves her husband and two daughters, Mrs. Rex Pearce (Willowby) and Mrs. Ross Brodie (Rangitata). The latter has gained distinction as a singer in New Zealand and overseas. There are seven grandchildren.
[Alice Mary Rowley married Donald Mclean in 1892]
[Alice Mary Mclean married John Forrester in 1908]
[Alice Mary Griffiths married Walter Ormiston Mackay married in 1931]

The ATL has music scores of compositions by Alice Mackay with lyrics by Johannes Andersen, Eileen Duggan, Mary Gilmore, Jessie Mackay (her sister-in-law) and others.

Ashburton Guardian, 25 May 1916, Page 3
At the close of the lecture Mrs Chapman and Mr Webb sang "The Celtic Cycle," the music of which was composed by Mrs John Forrester, Mus. Bac. of Ashburton, to words written by Miss Jessie Mackay. Both words and music are exceptionally good, and depict the quieter and more vigorous moods of Scottish song admirably. It is a cycle that should be published, for it would receive a very warm welcome particularly from lovers of Scottish music.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. R. W. Emerson.