Fine poetry is prose distilled to pure essence of truth, and that truth is usually presented in metaphor that goes straight through eye and flesh to touch bone with a cold white fire. The truth is not new. We all have it with in us; but often it has not been accessed for a long time., if at all. It is the poet’s gift to surprise us with our own knowledge and elicit from us the response, “Yes! But of course! That’s how it is!”
Of all fleeting things
a rainbow must be least,
most past recall.
Yet as your sunlight glanced athwart my rain
a luminescent arc
of diapasoned colour sudden stood …
… Noah’s child,
I find hope held within a mist-frail emblem.
Other poems proclaim God in nature with the kind of word music we associate with Gerard Manley Hopkins. In Tree Meditation, natural and religious images overlap, metaphor on metaphor on message:
I utter my leaves
my creed that is green:
green fire of grass
precedes my word
confirms and spreads
my creed that is green.
Confessor to travelling crowds of clouds
in their vestments of rain
with their gospels of light
and a college of choristers
high in my birdlofts
singing their orisons –
Poetry with its many layers comes from a richly lived life, and Beatrice Hoffmann (nee Studd) has been artist, teacher, librarian, mother, grandmother and always, child of earth, child of God.
This is a spirituality which grows with the seasons and finds its nourishment in the beauty of creation: “Creation arose through intense delight a reckless generous passion …” and “Beauty being no accident springs pure from its source.”
But there is no denial of the winter of being: “Mortality your name is grief except by utmost reach of faith we surpass it and enter it on realms of singing light.”Or of the sacrifice that the fullness of living demands: “Justice is a tool of love but through such flame none pass scatheless.”The title of this small treasure of poetry, A leaf in the wind, makes an immediate connection with Hildegard of Bingen’s A feather on the Breath of God. How appropriate! We suspect that the souls of these poets, Hildegard, gerard Manley Hopkins and Beatrice Hoffmann, are similar in size, texture and luminescence.
Joy Cowley (first published in Tui Motu)A Leaf in the Wind by Beatrice J. Hoffmann. Puriri Press.
Beatrice Hoffmann died 2 July 2001. May she rest in peace.