People of The Waimakariri: Person of focus this week…

Published: 21-Apr-2020

Ursula Bethell, 1874-1945, Social worker and poet.

'Time' by Ursula Bethell

‘Established’ is a good word, much used in garden books,
‘The plant, when established’ . . .
Oh, become established quickly, quickly, garden
For I am fugitive, I am very fugitive – – –

Those that come after me will gather these roses,
And watch, as I do now, the white wisteria
Burst, in the sunshine, from its pale green sheath.

Planned. Planted. Established. Then neglected,
Till at last the loiterer by the gate will wonder
At the old, old cottage, the old wooden cottage,
And say ‘One might build here, the view is glorious;
This must have been a pretty garden once.’

From a Garden in the Antipodes (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929)

“Ursula Bethell was one of New Zealand’s pioneer poets. One of her friends claimed, 'New Zealand wasn’t truly discovered in fact, until Ursula Bethell "very earnestly digging" raised her head to look at the mountains. Almost everyone had been blind before.' She sought to capture her response to the natural environment of her Canterbury home, informed and interpreted by her deep Christian faith. Her poetry searched for meaning and identity in New Zealand, as she battled the tensions between her English origins and her New Zealand adopted home.”

Photograph via, Alexander Turnbull Library, Diana Bethell Collection (PAColl-7696) Reference: F-201503-1/2

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