Michael Joseph Savage

..written originally as the funeral train made its way north from Wellington to Auckland, to his last resting place at Bastion Point.
Commenced St Martins, Christchurch April 1940; Completed Whakatane 1946

I stood before a monument
Set in a plot of green
High on a hill o'er a city
Where the air was fresh and clean
I saw the words that were written
Read them again and again
An epitaph most beautiful
`He served his fellow men'.

I saw again in memory
A man of stature slight
Thoughtful, friendly and sincere
Whose face was ever bright
With the purpose of his mission
To raise to loftier heights
And gave unto his fellow man
The fullness of his rights.

I heard again the beloved voice
As I stood there alone.
Softly, slow in measured phrase
Came the old familiar tone;
'I will never let you down
We will co-operate with you."
Simple homely words that came
From a man whose heart was true .

I saw him by a grave-side
Lonely and sore, distressed
Watched Harry Holland's mantle
On his slight figure rest
That he wore it well; Time was to tell
One epoch making night
When the writing on the wall proclaimed
The triumph of a peoples faith
The promise of a Future bright.

In reverie, a nation marched
From out the breadlines chilly vale
To sunny heights, with hope reborn
In human trust, he did not fail!
His simple faith in those he lead
Their trust in his sincerity
Bought a newer, better day
An ear of prosperity.

I saw him stand in Parliament
And the people's will proclaim
Watched the writing of the statute
That forever bears his name.

'Succour for the poor and needy
A better safeguard for old age.',
Our history's most human page.

I heard the cheering throngs again
Greeting him everywhere;
Glimpsed little groups by radios
As his voice went o'er the air
Then a scene of Maori homage
Brought back the smiling face
Of a Great White Rangitira
Whose love had raised the status
Of a proud and gallant race.

I saw him in his place once more
Faced by political foes
Mindful of his own beginnings
And the ranks from which he rose;
Always conscious of his duty
Keeping his escutcheon clean
Playing his part with dignity
With will of steel ...yet calm, demean
Two decades thus he graced
The grim political scene
Leaving behind a memory
...Forever green.

At last I watched a funeral train
Bear him one sorrowful day
Past city and wayside station
Where people waited to pay
Simple, humble tributes
To a friend;
I heard the sad sweet music
That came softly o'er the hill
Like a holy benediction
Beautiful and rare.

Thus in reverie I stood
Before that hallowed shrine
In the silent sacred presence
Of that character so fine
Who in short years of leadership
Gave the best that in him lay
In silent unselfish service
To bring a better day.

In humbleness I bowed my head
Enriched by my pilgrimage
To the resting place of him
Whose hand had written a human page
In the story of our land
Then as I raised my eyes, I saw
A shaft of sunlight, ...heaven sent
Rest upon his monument;
`He served his fellow men'.
The words in golden letters shone
But for a brief rich moment
Ere the light had gone.

I turned to wend my homeward way
Inspired and in awe
By a fleeting glimpse of the future
That his prophetic vision saw;
A new-born age of Brotherhood
A common unity
The consummation of the plan
Of Him who walked by Galilee.

'Vale, Michael Joseph Savage
Age and Youth in tribute stand
you have won an honoured niche
In your adapted land!
Rest in Peace O humble spirit
Rest from labour nobly done;
Though you have gone, the torch goes on
As go it must till the goal is won,
From morning's dawn till daylight fades
'Neath starlit sky or blackest night
We march toward that distant view
That in your lifetime brighter grew
Remembering with gratitude
A kindly soul whose heart imbued
His struggle for the right.'

His was the heart of Humanity
Searching for those higher things
Seeking the glorious Ultimate
That faith with striving brings
His were the Footsteps of Hope
Tramping the highways of Fear
His the soul of the People
Counting no cost too dear
His the Voice of Brotherhood
Sounding the one Clear Call
His the Hand of Friendship
Held out to one and all
His the Vision of a Future
Fashioned in Understanding's Flame,
Comradeship of Men and Nations
Humanity ...worthy of its name.

Ours the memory of a Friend
Who spent his life unselfishly
Sparing neither mind nor health
that his fellow man be free
From the spectre torch of Poverty
And Fear's soul-destroying blight;
Free to walk with Dignity
In the Light.
Ours the glorious privilege
In this allotted span
To build a mighty structure
On his simple plan
That all men everywhere shall see
In his blue-print for Humanity
The Golden Ultimate achieved
The One True Liberty.

...a funeral train in the moonlight,

I watched till it turned the bend,

Leaving in the Sacred Silence,

A memory of a Friend


New Zealand's First Labour Prime Minister. This photo hung in a place of reverence in tens of thousands of New Zealand homes. Born in Tatong Victoria on 23 March 1872, he died in Wellington on the 27 March 1940 . His last resting place is at Bastion Pt Auckland.

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