Denis Glover

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An excerpt from Denis Glover's poem "Wellington Harbour is a Laundry" on the Wellington waterfront

Lieutenant Commander Denis James Matthews Glover DSC (9 December 1912 – 9 August 1980) was a New Zealand poet and publisher.

Well known for radical leftist opinions, he was often in trouble with authorities. In 1935 he founded the Caxton Press,[1] which he used to encourage a less sentimental style of poetry in New Zealand than was being published prior to this time. His work at the Press was interrupted by service in the Navy in World War II, in which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and received a Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.

His best-known works are the Sings Harry sequence, "Arawata Bill", and "The Magpies". The refrain of the latter ("Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle", imitating the sound of the Australian magpie) is one of the most famous lines in New Zealand poetry.

Playwright Roger Hall wrote a play called Mr Punch about Glover's life. Douglas Lilburn set some of his poems to music, and later used a theme from his setting of "Sings Harry" in his Third Symphony.


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