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R. A. K. Mason (Ronald Allison Kells Mason) Biography

(1905–71), (Ronald Allison Kells Mason), The Beggar, No New Thing, Squire Speaks, To Save Democracy

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Harriet Martineau Biography to John McTaggart (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart) Biography

New Zealand poet, born near Auckland, educated at the University of Auckland. His early interest in Latin writers became a lasting influence on his own work. Mason lived most of his life in Auckland. A committed Marxist, and politically active during the Depression of the 1930s, he was an important influence on other writers, though he wrote but little himself; Charles Brasch, A. R. D. Fairburn, and Allen Curnow were among those who knew him well, and in 1964 he introduced the first volume by the Maori poet Hone Tuwhare. Early volumes The Beggar (1924) and No New Thing (1934) were not a success and later books fared little better. Among several plays are Squire Speaks (1938), a satire for radio, and To Save Democracy (1938), an essay-like drama which explored the treatment of New Zealand's conscientious objectors during the First World War. This Dark Will Lighten: Selected Poems, 1923–41 (1941) appeared when much of Mason's energy was devoted to trade union activities, but exemplified his effective blend of harshly understated realism and lyric grace. Mason's Collected Poems (1962) includes a valuable introduction by Curnow.

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