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Pania of the reef

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Still and silent stream in the midnight dark
Resting amongst the flax is the night sky beauty herself
Quenching a thirst from the sweet, still waters
Winds that whisper vows and carry the faintest of spells

Her eyes are deep pools of wintery water
Playing in the shallows feels safe, any deeper and you risk drowning
An otherworldly beauty emerges from her secret stream
Such an ethereal maiden has never before been seen

Rushing to a union and pledging to love
Karitioki and Pania, under the thick of night, retire to bliss
Sirens of the sea call her name at first light
Until tomorrow she bids and returns to her watery world

Boasts to everyone of a beautiful wife
Yet none can lay eyes on this seashore seductress
Kaumatua has the answer that is so sought
To keep the beautiful maiden’s feet on dry land

Cooked food is the answer for Chief Karitioki
Sleeping softly, blissful and in peace
One delicate morsel is enough to keep
Ruru calls a warning, no longer does Pania sleep

Sirens of the sea beseech her return
Fleeing on fast feet, Pania rushes to the shore
She is snatched into the depths of reefs below
Stormy waters bellow on the surface

The alarmed Karitioki follows on behind
Frantically swimming to try and save his love
A mistake to think he could keep her on land
Now the maiden of the sea resides in the reefs

Author’s note: This poem is based on the tale of Pania of the reef from New Zealand Maori mythology. Karitioki is the name of the Maori Chief who fell in love with Pania; Kaumatua is the Maori word for elder, someone who is wise and sage. Ruru is the Maori word for the Morepork Owl.


Written by LauraDanielle
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