New Zealand’s unelected poet laureate composes an ode for the two most shamed people in New Zealand

The Wānakers

From the sighing mangrove swamps of the North,

did the young lovers flee;

whence scrofulous humours didst afflict their City,

that intemperate hub of commerce.

Reluctant were our libertines to suffer

the vile Grippe, the Ague, the loathsome Pox.

But ’twas the melancholic air of solitude,

sequestered in their narrow garret,

that turned them aside from reason,

and exil’d them far beyond the pale.

As knew the Bard, like madness

is the glory of this life!

They rode furious all night, leaving behind

the morbid glimmer of that plague-wrack’d realm,

until the beast–splattered outskirts of The Tron

rolled over the endless horizon.

Thus they disembarked, and tied their stallions

to a tree, and fell skyward on a mighty Balloon,

until all the creatures of the earth resembleth

small dots below, until a brief call at Queen’s Landing

guaranteed as much trouble as possible

was conjured from their lawless flight.

Lo, they ascended with waxen wing

close to the Sun, as did Icarus in antiquity,

across the great moat that defends

the Southern Isle from the peregrinations

of the rude Northern tribes and their loud ways.

After many carbon miles, they came to the Promised Land

of Level 2 takeaway latte, where gentle zephyrs

tickle the cherry blossom and flouncing lambs;

in the lake country, far from the maddening crowd.

Yet all too soon was their bower of bliss perturbed

by the rude clamour of the Covid dob line;

and the prompt arrival of Sheriff’s Men,

dour and short in their temper and bearing.

Back, back, to the North, were our star-cross’d

lovers hauled, enchain’d and gnashing in despair.

Attended were they by Counsel, Doctors of Law

and Crisis Communications Professionals,

their High Families jeered and mock’d and enraged,

hard-won reputation a pile of ash that smoketh.

The court of public opinion casteth them

into outer darkness, from which we hope

they may emerge as doth the butterfly

from the chrysalis, in due course,

in maybe a decade or so.

Victor Billot has previously been moved to write odes for such New Zealand luminaries as Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Judith Collins, Duncan Garner, Billy Te Kahika, and Garrick Tremain.

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