Erling Jensen

Poems and writings by Erling B. Jensen (1933-2015)

Erling Jensen with his wife Glenice

Erling B. Jensen
Born in Denmark 10.8.1933 – 23.6.2015 in New Zealand

Erling Jensen was a prolific writer of prose and poems. In his self-published booklet, “My life as a Writer”, he writes of his work and interest.
As a registered translator and interpreter, I have translated a number of books and articles from various European languages and was the editor of the News magazine for the Danish Society in Auckland from 1985 to 1987. Quite a challenge in my “spare time”.
My articles and short stories have been published in newspapers and magazines in Denmark, Norway, Germany, Scotland and New Zealand, including various articles in CWG (Christian Writers Guild) magazine since 1991.
My book of poems Kokako Country, was published in 1990 and three of my one act plays have been performed at the Waitemata Theatre in West Auckland.
Twelve of my poems were published in three New Zealand Anthologies: Poems for our Time (1985), New Beginnings (1989), New Zealand at Heart (1991).
The International Library of Poetry in USA published some of my poems in different anthologies, including my poem “Ms Grey”, which won a bronze medal. It had to be the required length with a maximum of 20 lines.
The following publications are also available in some New Zealand libraries:
Departmental Desk Mania, a 50 minute comedy which turns into a farce.
Tough Talk, a compendium of poems, articles and short stories.
Count Luckner’s Escape from Motuihe Island, a play in nine episodes.
Confessions in a Safety Belt, a one act drama which won the award for Best Original Play at the Otamatea Repertory Theatre in 2000.
Over several year, I have been teaching German, French, Italian, Spanish and Creative Writing in different schools. Books I have edited include Pre-Tasman Explorers, and New Zealand’s Hidden Past by Ross Wiseman, as well as the controversial Christian book called Gladiators, published in the USA.
In 1993 I acted as a judge for the Christian Writers Guild competitions levels 1 and 2.
My motto is: Let our God-given talents shine!

Permission to publish Erling’s poems and stories on the Danish Society was granted by his wife Glenice.

The old Maori Tahi In Tainui said
“The moon was very beautiful. When it was full, it came up in all its beauty – very clear!
Then they invented this business of going to the moon – to get pieces of it.
Now days, you can see that it is very small.
And you can hardy make Out the figure of Saint Peter, playing jackstones.
Today, you don’t see it anymore. The moon rises Small and dark.
If they keep taking away the rocks, they will do away with the moon.”

The crisp meringue dessert,
topped with whipped cream,
melts on the tongue
like a fleeting dream.
The fluffy, soft centre
Is easily tucked away.
Count the calories
some other day!

Under the trees I stand
as so often before –
trying to understand,
while I listen in awe
to the howling wind,
whistling and tearing
through the tree—tops,
spreading seeds and raindrops,
ruffling feathers of birds,
breathing life into words.

Long beaches of gleaming sand,
laundered by wind and wave,
grace the coastline of this land.
Walking along the rocky shore
I came across a junk-filled cave.
An eyesore I didn’t see before

I see the tide is about to turn.
The graceful white-frosted tern
frequents the ever changing estuary.
Wheeling, darting and dipping
to the water, it joins the company
of pied stilts and oyster-catchers.
As the tide goes out, the waders
land on sandy flats, preening
their feathers and strutting around,
where shellfish still abound.

There I said to my daughter:
“I wonder for how long
the tern will return-
as a sign that the water
is clean and healthy?”


I walk along Pataua Beach, gazing
towards the Orion constellation.
Celestial bodies are so amazing
they turn my mind to meditation,
for galaxies whirl in grains of sand.
I reckon the hunter is playing tricks.
Rigel, his foot, comes up to his hand –
His feet are Betelguese and Bellatrix!
I discover to my surprise that down here
The hunter’s sword isn’t hanging
below his belt – a drooping string
of stars as in the Northern Hemisphere.
It stands above his belt, pointing


This wonder reminds me once again that speaking as a transplanted Dane
my world is indeed turned upside-down
for Christmas under the Southern Cross.


Meet a Musical Celebrity – Victor Borge

In 1990, spirits were high when the Danish born Victor Borge made people convulse in laughter during his piano concerts at the Aotea centre in Auckland.
And the laughter continued when Borge accepted an invitation from the Danish Club for a luncheon in his honour.
More than 100 members of Danish descent were gathered in Danish House. Many adults as well as children turned up in national costumes. Folklore par excellence!
Quite frankly, I was excited. I sensed great expectations in Viking Hall. And children waved their small Danish flags, when Victor Borge finally appeared – 81 years old, six foot tall – a
We gave him a standing ovation. Borge smiled, looked around and said, “Sit down.” But that was easier said than done. There were more people than chairs.
The chairman, Edmund Rendtslev, opened his speech by bidding the world famous entertainer a warm welcome. He remembered the first time he saw Victor Borge, giving a musical performance in Denmark- way back in 1939. “I decided that I would never see you again- I nearly died from laughing.”
Borge quipped, “I am glad that I wasn’t funnier.”
Niels Jægersborg, the Danish Consul, gave Borge a Kiwi present on behalf of the members. And in the midst of his welcome speech, Borge was quick off the mark, adding witty remarks.
Niels said,” We know that humour is the spice of life.”
Cardamom!” Borge chipped in.
“And for more than 50 years you have understood the art of making people laugh in many countries.” Niels went on with a smile.” You have set a standard for a great Dane.”
Niels mentioned that he had heard Borge playing “Happy birthday during the concert at the Aotea Centre in Auckland.
“I wonder why? Perhaps it was a hint that you were preparing yourself to celebrating Queen Margrethe’s 50th birthday in Copenhagen?”
“I won’t be there,” Borge said
“What a pity!”
“Not for the Queen.”
At the luncheon, Borge spotted a frikadelle (Danish meat pattie). He took a few bites and said “Frikadeller! I’ll soon be back again.”
Somebody asked, “Are you on a diet or something?”
“I’m on two diets. I need two because the first one leaves me hungry all the time.”


And then to a surprise and a big one. Borge was willing to play on our piano – a rickety, old thing. When we dragged the piano across the floor, a wooden frame under the keyboards fell off. Borge took it in his stride. He grabbed a dining chair and began to play with vim and vigour. And he didn’t fall off his chair.
We stood around the piano and were amazed at his masterly skill. We sang along, trying to recall the words of a Danish song. And the tunes we sang, the words we heard evoked nostalgia – like a resonant echo from the past, across six decades in which much had change.
He knew how to pluck the heart strings. He struck a responsive chord in more ways than one-enough to jog my memory from a bygone era. Happy times, free from stress. Melodies came to mind from the late 1930s and even further back in my childhood. Folk songs and nursery rhymes my mother had taught me. Images! It was like going down memory lane. I felt acutely aware of the past in the present.
Then he played the Danish National Anthem: “ Der er et yndigt land” (There is a lovely land). A stirring tune, composed by Carl Nielsen, my favourite Danish composer. The anthem touched my heart.
Living in New Zealand since 1965, I was not used to such nostalgic strains. My mind flashed back to my family, my roots, and the land of my ancestors.
Perhaps one gets a better understanding what it means to be a Dane when one is far off from Denmark- on the opposite side of the globe.
When Borge heard our thunderous applause he got up and exclaimed, “Now I am dead!”
And with a sweeping gesture, a crescendo on the piano, he added, “My humour is … a cover up. But I am touched by your hospitality.”
We wishes our musical celebrity “farvel” (farewell). Children waved their small flags. And the great Dane strode out of Viking Hall.

Victor Borge, the “clown prince of Denmark, died on the 23 December 2000. For half a century he delighted audiences with his blend of Jewish and Danish humour. Born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, January 3 1909. He studied music at the Copenhagen Conservatoire and in Vienna.
He started playing in public at the age of 13. Even in his nineties he planned to give two concerts in New Zealand.
He was popular in Denmark but because of the German occupation, he managed to escape to America and changed his name to sound more American.

Erling B. Jensen

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