‘Otago Peninsula’, by Brian Turner

There, beneath a portcullis of rain
lie the bones of time-rent men and women.

They lie awash in the slush
that saddened and sometimes defeated them.

Scabby hedges cling to the slopes
of hills yoked by sky.

Here the whole range of earth’s colours
sprawl on paddock, stone wall and crumpled sea.

Nothing is left untouched by sparse sunlight,
slanting rain, fists of wind punching

the ribs of the land. Here, under tough grasses
and the crust of sheep and cattle tracks

crumble the fondest dreams and prophecies.
No one came who stayed to conquer, no one came

who was not beaten down
or turned away for another time.

– Brian Turner, ‘Otago Peninsula’ in Ancestors (Dunedin: John McIndoe, 1981).


  1. When we visited Dunedin a couple of years ago, we spent some time at the museum (can’t recall exact name) dedicated to Maori and early settlers. I can recall Dunedin being either hilly, very hilly, or steeply hilly!


  2. good poem; tough landscape; rugged coastline; determined seas; what a fine, resolute, resilient breed of people such places tend to breed; no wonder some can also be very stubborn.


  3. This poem makes little sense
    something I like is mike pence

    Each stanza has two lines
    I am quite scared of mimes

    My English teacher says this poem is about exposed feelings
    I don’t understand how she got that and find it somewhat unappelaing

    This is the end but I hope you remember
    Just because its an old poem don’t mean its splendour.

    This poem makes more sense and sounds cooler in my uneducated opinion.


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