Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Controversy, by Ursula Bethell


There is perpetual contention
Between the guardians of the dwelling house and the demesne.

Shall the garden be a paradise,
And the inside of the cottage a shambles?

Or contrariwise, the garden a wilderness,
While we preserve the image of a Dutch interior?

While one cries out 'The wash-up waits!'
The other murmurs wistfully 'The lawns! The lawns!'

Tell me now, what is your dream -
The neatest apartment in Knightsbridge?
Or in a deep glade of Eden a booth of green boughs?

Ursula Bethell (1874-1945)

Ursula Bethell was born in England and came to New Zealand with her parents as a small child. She returned to England to complete her education and stayed there for 25 years. She then returned permanently to New Zealand and purchased Rise Cottage on the Cashmere Hills in Christchurch, where she wrote the bulk of her poetry, celebrating her beloved garden and the views of the plains and mountains.

At the weekend I went to view the latest exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery. The fact that the gallery has been closed since the earthquakes has not stopped the staff from finding ways to mount exhibitions. This one, Reconstruction: Conversations on a City is installed on display stands placed along Worcester Boulevard next to the gallery. It contains reproductions of photographs and paintings showing buildings and gardens of Christchurch in the past (more and less recent) and as they are now.

On one of the stands there were images of gardens along with the above poem by Ursula Bethell, which is what prompted me to choose it for my Tuesday Poem this week. For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.


AJ Ponder said...

Love this poem. Especially as the implication is the more life changes the more it stays the same - as I can so relate. Thanks for posting!

Jennifer Compton said...

such sly wit - great

Michelle Elvy said...

Laid out so simply, this poem gets to the heart of some of our greatest conflicts. The contrasts between what is outside and what is in -- very clever.