15 November 2021


The outer side of Ranu Raraku crater where the moai statues were created

In the autumn of 2009 when I visited Easter Island, Chile and  western Argentina, I kept a diary. Had I read it in the last twelve years? I don't think so but today I dipped into it and about thirty pages in I discovered that I had attempted a poem while staying on the island. 

Twelve years later I have reworked it slightly and given it a little spit and polish while retaining the sense that it was "of the moment" - inspired by being there on one of the remotest inhabited specks of land on the entire planet. 

Here it is:-

Rapa Nui

With such certainty
The stone adze struck
Unyielding tuff.
Sometimes the masons
Would wipe their brows
And survey the line
Drawn where ocean met sky.

Way beyond it,
Chinese potters made exquisite vessels,
Aztecs built Tenochtitlan,
Egyptians immortalised the Nile
And America sat unknown.
But here on the slopes
Of Ranu Raraku
They chipped away
Day by day
Making their moai
For the dead
And for the
Extolment of the living.
There was never a doubt
That's what life
Was all about.
Rapa Nui = Polynesian name for Easter Island
tuff = a volcanic rock native to Easter Island.
Tenochtitlan = Aztec city now overwhelmed by modern day Mexico City. It was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas
Ranu Raraku = crater on Easter Island where nearly all the statues were carved
moai = the famous stone heads
Extolment = praise, approval and commendation

Moai inside Ranu Raraku crater - still waiting to be transported

This poem is, I think,  okay. I am glad I rediscovered it but maybe it's time to write another poem or two that reflect upon that faraway island and what it might mean.


  1. It's always interesting to go back and read old writing and find things we wrote that have since been forgotten. I suppose part of the charm of the poem is its impromptu nature, inspired by being in that lonely place.

    As an aside, do you know what those orange flowers are in the second photo?

    1. I have no idea Steve. They could have been native flowers but possibly introduced from elsewhere. The original flora of the island would have been quite unique as pollen investigations have indicated.

  2. I haven't seen one of your poems for while. Interesting history on this one.

    1. Thanks Red and thanks for reading it.

  3. I can see how re-reading your diary from twelve years ago evokes those feelings and thoughts you had at that particular place and time.

    1. To tell you the truth a lot of what I wrote is like lines from someone else's life.

  4. A sense of wonderment as we file past the world's treasures is what I took from your poem. Elegantly written with knowledge.

    1. Thanks for reading it and reflecting upon it Thelma. At the height of their small civilisation there would have been no knowledge of the outer world. It might as well not have existed.

  5. I try to take time to look at old sketch books and jottings - they always surprise me. Recently, I found some old poems too, and they were better than I thought, though not for publication. I sometimes wonder about writing today in response to my drawings from the past - that would be interesting perhaps.
    It is our response itself that is the most profound and yet hardest to capture.

    1. Publish and be damned Mark!...That is my profound response.


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