Cold Hub Press ~ David Howard


freepost per copy – national & international

price NZ$19.50

The Speak House


A Poem in Fifty-Seven Pentastichs

on the Final Hours in the Life of

Robert Louis Stevenson


by David Howard


with woodcuts by Robert Louis Stevenson



ISBN: 978-0-473-28364-3


Softcover chapbook, 44pp, 210 x 145mm





In The Speak House David Howard takes “the common phrase ‘my life flashed before my eyes’ as a signpost”, and creates a “feverish tumble of impressions” that might have occurred in the final two hours of Robert Louis Stevenson’s life, either just before or just after he lost consciousness. Howard’s The incomplete poems was published by Cold Hub Press in 2011.



"Full of risk and wonder, The incomplete poems shows the range of Howard’s abilities, but also strikes out for new territory. He remains consistently one of our finest living lyric poets and each of these astonishing poems is clear and memorable. They are achingly wonderful poems on the quest for the numinous, celebrating love and coming to terms with grief, and the mysterious that is always just beyond our reach." [Patricia Prime, Poetry New Zealand 45]



The Speak House was written while the poet was Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, in 2013.

The wave never regrets breaking.

It was made to, and you and me . . .

We must give up what we cannot have

for ever, let the word go

its own way, the way of the echo.


When we stop so does the road.

Except that Vailima is real

when we’re not there, however

little breath comforts our lungs

when we hear the last rites


if we hear them, if we follow

the light house on the sea

beyond the bar, beyond

all possibility of an house not made . . .

And then the wave, and then.


© David Howard 2104