Tuning Wordsworth's Piano

Author(s): Jane Simpson

NZ Poetry

On an unlikely pilgrimage, a cycling tour to find a poet's unmarked crib, Jane Simpson discovers a landscape at once less Romantic, and more lyrical than the 'unspoilt Nature' seen by tourists at scenic spots.

Unexpected turns draw the reader into the worlds of goddess religions, pre-contact Maori society and western Christianity; and into the intimate world of family relationships. In the final section, where the sun and stars sing at the marriage of gay people in the Church, Wordsworth's Piano is tuned to the harmony of the spheres.


Tuning Wordsworth's piano

Unspoilt Nature is nature writ too small;
nature at our feet;
nodding daffodils saying ‘Yes’,
green the obverse of grey paths
in the Victorian Botanical Gardens
where children cavort and disks wheel,
Orphic artists paint concentric circles,
create the sun – sing the music
of the spheres.


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Jane Simpson’s new collection of poems is a gift for her elderly father, a retired Professor of Fine Arts, silversmith, bibliophile. How are we to remember a lifetime together? Perhaps as ‘a lacquered bowl, chipped, like memories.’ Herein is poetry as the servant of time, as the heart of a daughter. – Bernadette Hall 

A remarkably consistent expression of intelligent feeling. Jane Simpson has a very deft way of conflating landscape with language, instanced in the lively ‘cycling the Catlins’ sequence. Honest, unabashed religious poems are also a refreshing component. On the evidence of this volume, she has further strengths ahead of her. – Tony Beyer

Jane Simpson grew up in New Zealand in a home filled with art and lively debate. Her art-educator parents emigrated from England just after she was born. She has a PhD (Otago) in religion and gender in NZ (1939–59) and has taught social history and religious studies in universities in Australia and New Zealand. Her poems and academic articles have been published in books, anthologies and journals both within New Zealand and internationally, including takahē, Poetry New Zealand and Meniscus. Her chapbook, Candlewick kelp, was published by Poets Group in 2002, and her first full-length collection, A world without maps, by Interactive Publications in 2016. She has an adult son, and currently teaches academic writing as a Senior Tutor at Lincoln University.

General Fields

  • : 9781925231915
  • : Interactive Publications Pty, Limited
  • : Interactive Press
  • : May 2019
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Jane Simpson
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 59