new zealand electronic poetry centre

Ursula Bethell

online works


Weathered Rocks

Poetry is a music made of images
   Worded one in the similitude of another,
Chaining the whole universe to the ecstasies,
   Of humanity, its anguish and fervour.

But there shall be no equivalent
   Of these fire-wrought and water-worn boulders,
Tattoo’d and stained, silvered, denigrated,
   Rusted and empurpled by exposure
To ocean-salted south and east winds
   Unremittingly sweeping over these headlands;

Since in the bosom of this volcano
   The fires abated, died down, and were exhausted,
Fretted by aurelian and grey moulds,
   Encrusted by frilled lichens, pale, glaucous;
Giving pittance to lissom tussock grasses
   And twisted brambles, from invisible crevasses.

Rock, thorn, cryptogram, each has significance,
   Each makes contribution to eternal parabole;
And we are kin, compounded of the same elements,
   Alike proceeding to an unknown goal;
And they are secret to themselves as I am secret to myself,
   And I think they have no part in my dole;

And shall another estimate the influence
   Of mass, form, colour, on individual soul,
Or relate my smitten heart-throb,
   Beholding these things, to cosmic diastole?
But deep is the given peace, when informed particular
   Has respect unto the dignity of the whole.


From Time and Place (Caxton, 1936)


Last updated 10 April, 2005