Frances Bellerby & Jeltje Hoogenkamp
Jeltje Hoogenkamp: Ground
All Souls’ Day
by Frances Bellerby
Let's go our old way
by the stream, and kick the leaves
as we always did, to make
the rhythm of breaking waves.
This day draws no breath –
shows no colour anywhere
except for the leaves - in their death
brilliant as never before.
Yellow of Brimstone Butterfly,
brown of Oak Eggar Moth –
you'd say. And I'd be wondering why
a summer never seems lost
if two have been together
witnessing the variousness of light,
and the same two in lustreless November
enter the year's night…
The slow-worm stream - how still!
Above that spider's unguarded door,
look – dull pearls…Time's full,
brimming, can hold no more.
Next moment (we well know,
my darling, you and I)
what the small day cannot hold
must spill into eternity.
So perhaps we should move cat-soft
meanwhile, and leave everything unsaid,
until no shadow of risk can be left
of disturbing the scatheless dead.
Ah, but you were always leaf-light.
And you so seldom talk
as we go. But there at my side
through the bright leaves you walk.
And yet – touch my hand
that I may be quite without fear,
for it seems as if a mist descends,
and the leaves where you walk do not stir.
1 November is All Saints’ Day, commemorating all the saints of the church, known and unknown, the communion of saints who are present with us today across the world and those who have gone on before us. 2 November celebrates All Souls’ Day, the day set aside for remembering and honouring the dead in Christ. It is a day of mourning for those who have recently lost a loved one and a day to be especially near to those in their sorrow.
All Souls sets us squarely in our mortality. It is however not just a dark day, as we are not without hope. Jeltje Hoogenkamp and Frances Bellerby each in their own way have given voice to this hope in their painting and poem.
Jeltje Hoogenkamp: Ground, 2012, 50 x 70 cm, pencil, pen ink and acrylics.
Jeltje Hoogenkamp (1946) studied painting and graphical arts at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She is interested in narrative sequences and thematic series. Subjects like fences of concentration camps, biblical stories, exodus, quails and manna, landscapes, clothes, paradise, eggs and birds, and mother and child are recurring in her work on a regular basis. Poems are a source of inspiration as well. Explicit and implicit allusions to the stories and symbols of the Christian faith play an important role. Jeltje Hoogenkamp’s work is meditative and she uses warm colours. There is room between the lines in her paintings, a space that viewers are free to fill in for themselves. She has also designed book covers and posters. Sets of cards of her work are available.
Frances Bellerby (1899-1975) was an English poet, novelist and short story writer. She was the daughter of an Anglo-Catholic curate in a poor working-class parish of East Bristol. She lost her only brother in WW I. Eventually she settled in Cornwall and later in Devon, producing poetry, short stories and a second novel. She considered herself foremost a poet. Much of her work is pervaded by the autobiographical as in the poem above. Bellerby's poetic works are often coloured by the changing seasons of the year and frequently respond to the church calendar as we see here.
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