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I recall an inspirational English teacher from my days at South Otago High School who was passionate about poetry and encouraged us to remember notable verses.
One unforgettable one was ‘‘What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare’’.
These being some of the uplifting words contained in a poem by the late Welsh poet W. H. Davies (1871-1940) who was sometimes described as ‘‘the super tramp’’, being much of the time a wanderer but very tuned into and observant of the natural world.
Another poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850), in observing English factories with their chimneys belching smoke was moved to write a poem containing these words ‘‘The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in nature that is ours...’’
How fortunate in Dunedin to live in an environment of exceptional beauty where we are not overwhelmed by extreme industrialisation and congestion.
Nature’s charms are all around with the last of the autumn leaves still hanging from the trees in Anzac Ave and around Logan Park where the morning air feels fresh and invigorating.
We have a stunning harbour with all its magic on display from sparkling coves to sweeping coastal vistas, all nestling beneath rugged and weather-worn hillsides.
Particular buildings and parts of the city also uplift. The First Church spire rises gracefully and stylishly skywards. The railway station building is all elegance and class. The Octagon has a certain charm and unique character. There are of course buildings and localities that look worn and run down. However, it is pleasing to see rejuvenation in Vogel St and environs bringing a sense of fresh vision and optimism. One of Dunedin’s great attributes is its gentleness and overall peacefulness.
The province of Otago in general has an astonishing and varied landscape. Not surprisingly, it has been and is the home to a number of prominent artists, poets and writers. The late Janet Frame was a wordsmith of incredible talent and eloquence. Much of her descriptive prose has a timeless and enduring quality. The vast plains and hills of the Maniototo have also provided inspiration for creative endeavours with Grahame Sydney turning blank canvass into artistic gems, Brian Turner producing quality verse on a regular basis and Jim Sullivan ably penning his often whimsical articles.
To the west lie the immense lakes and snow-capped peaks of the Queenstown and Wanaka regions.
Within a short time frame the traveller is transported from the rocky and dry terrain of Central Otago to the lush, fertile and rolling farmland of South and West Otago. Not to be overlooked is the scenic magic of the Catlins with its forests, craggy ocean cliffs and the unforgettable sight of Tautuku Beach stretching southwards in all its splendour.
So pause for a moment. Look out. Stand and stare for there is much to admire.
■Joss Miller is a retired Dunedin lawyer.