The Millerton Sequences (2014)

Cover design: Ellen Portch

Leicester Kyle. The Millerton Sequences. Edited with an Introduction by Jack Ross. Poem by David Howard. ISBN 978-0-9922453-5-1. Pokeno, Auckland: Atuanui Press, 2014. 140 pp.


Jack Ross:
Introducing Leicester Kyle
Select Bibliography

David Howard:
Instead of, In Memory

  1. Five Flowers at Millerton Mine [13/1/99]

  2. Picnic in the Mangatini [21/3/00]

  3. Rain [11/1/02]

  4. Death of a Landscape [Feb 2004]

  • So
  • We argue
  • Like Dresden, where
  • Nature makes mistakes
  • and then you die
  • Aubade
  • An Aside: Advice to the Rehabilitator
  • [map]

  • The Catheter Club [20/12/04]

  • Rain Poems [19/1-2/2/06]

  • Epilogue:


    This book is issued in memory of
    The Rev. Leicester Kyle
    poet, priest, ecologist

    in commemoration of his death
    on July 4th, 2006

    and to celebrate the publication
    of his online
    Collected Poems
    between July 4th, 2011
    & January 9th, 2013


    These six poetry sequences, previously uncollected, represent some of the very best work from the second half of Leicester Kyle’s writing career: the Millerton period, dating roughly from his departure from Auckland in April 1998, after the death of his first wife Miriel, to his own death in Christchurch Hospital in July 2006.

    Beginning with a short sequence grounded in Leicester’s expert knowledge of Botany, “Five Flowers at Millerton Mine”; the selection moves on to “Picnic In The Mangatini,” which is probably as close as Leicester ever got to a straightforward set of “nature” poems; thence to a meditative evocation of place, “Rain”; then to a work of ecological protest against the proposed strip-mining of the Millerton plateau, “Death of a Landscape”; then a searching personal confession, written towards the very end of his life, “The Catheter Club”; and lastly to “Rain Poems,” which, in aggregate, sound like a bittersweet farewell to the West Coast and its weather.

    Leicester by the longdrop
    [photograph: Jack Ross (2000)]


    Leicester Kyle was born in Christchurch in 1937. After initial training as a botanist, he entered the Anglican Church in 1963, only to take early retirement in 1995 after his conversion to a new religion: poetry. His fascination with postmodern poetics was succeeded by a more relaxed sense of the indigenous and anecdotal in the work written after his move to Millerton on the West Coast in the late 1990s. He died of cancer in 2006.

    The twin websites set up by Leicester’s literary executors, David Howard and myself, have been designed to hold all of his extant work in electronic form, along with secondary and critical material.

    Leicester Kyle

    Online Texts:

    Leicester Kyle Index

    Leicester Kyle Texts


    Atuanui Press


    Atuanui Press
    1416 Kaiaua Rd
    Pokeno 2473
    New Zealand

    Atuanui Bookshop
    RRP: $NZ 30.00

    Reviews & Comments:

    1. Hamish Dewe, "An Introduction to the Millerton Sequences." Poetry NZ Yearbook 1 [Issue #49] (October, 2014): 216-20.

      Leicester Kyle’s latest book covers the final period of his life, after leaving Auckland to live in Millerton. In the context of these poems, this seems like a denial of the overly-human urban world in favour of the more mediated world of the human-in-nature, a rejection of the human as master in favour of the human whose mastery is conditional upon his place within the larger context of the natural world.

      The five central sequences of the book are presented in chronological order, bookended by two standalone pieces, “One Hundred Steps to Millerton Mine”, and “Red Dog/Brown”. “One Hundred Steps to Millerton Mine” serves as a great introduction to the core sequences, introducing most of the main themes.

      … the sequences, with the exception of “The Catheter Club”, have a remarkable consistency of reference. Parallel phrases and constructions crop up regularly. The hundred steps are an ascent, to “the paradise prepared”, the made world of the original mine, now in the final phase of reclamation by the bush. It’s the book’s first example of human endeavour on a human scale, a scale on which any damage wrought can be redeemed by natural processes within the span of a couple of generations. We ascend the steps through the teeming bush and ascend to our own realm of activity and commerce, without transcendence. Paradise is immanent in this life and does not need to be searched for anywhere else. Our acceptance of our place in a world which is larger than ourselves and has no concern for our well-being (see “Rain” and “Rain Poems”) leads to small epiphanic moments of grace. Notable by its absence is any attempt to paint this mine as “the Pit” [“Death of a Landscape”]. Kyle’s paradise is a fragile balance between human activity and that of the rest of the natural world of which he is part.

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