:: Appraisal 1 click any image with a coloured border to enlarge.
A Point of Departure
- a critical appraisal

The act of going away can take many forms, ranging from simple farewells, concerning people, places, things, to the ultimate leave-taking, brought about by death.

In her collection of poems, 'A Point of Departure', Joyce Finzi reflects on this theme and gives expression to her own highly individual thoughts and feelings. Some of the poems are direct and easily understood; others profound, complex, philosophical, pondering the mystery of life, the unknown.

'Anniversary' is a short, cheerful acceptance of parting with youth and hoping for happiness amid the vagaries of life.

Let forties come
Let forties go
And never mind the weather
May summer's sun
And winter's snow
Twine happiness together

This unremitting process of human life, of nature, moving on from one phase to the next is a recurring theme and the transition from past to present is encapsulated in, 'Fallen Tree with Ivy Bound'

In this quiet place
the winds fly over.
A song bird flown
the nest outgrown…

Here past is caught
and present held…

While all about and unaware
from turmoil far removed
Shy purposeful stirring
of a waking day
through leaf and frond
and trembling grass.

On the subject of death, remembrances of two very different men are juxtaposed. The first, 'Here lies Bert', recounts the burial of a man, seemingly of humble origins.

His ever slow and furtive way
The frosted faggot of his noon
Now surely measured in red clay

But he has his moment of glory as neighbours cover his simple, sunlit mound with brilliant autumn flowers.

Never king
Was fairer crowned.

The second is a moving tribute to Ivor Gurney, whose wounds to body and mind, suffered during army service, 1914-1918, cut short the great promise shown in his early composition. He spent his last years in a mental institution and died at the age of forty-seven.

Now the last late song is gathered in -
Gleaned with love-bright constancy
From that urgent scattered sowing
Before the fall of night

Forgotten now the anguish, hidden those deeds
Through love and hate, with wisdom and with folly.

Tempered in extremity they stand
Ardent battlements to times erosion -
In his beloved, most fair and watered land.

Physical and mental wounds are sometimes handled with brooding intensity.

Down to the river
So swift its flow
To show my love the way to go.

Bright the water
Dark the tide
Sharp the wound within my side.


There was a wound -
It would not heal
It was both deep and wide

I sought to bind -
It could not be
The waiting earth received its blood.


Sensitive to atmosphere, Finzi sometimes chooses the darkness and mystery of night as a setting. In 'A Winter Night', she develops the idea of a group of people, wondering what part they are destined to play.

What pattern to follow?
What point of departure?

They must go on. They cannot turn back and there is no chance to learn anything new. Like actors in a play, waiting to be prompted, they hear their fate.

'I prompt' Said Time.

In contrast, a number of pieces have a lyrical quality. With her mastery of language, artist's eye, and affinity with nature, she creates impressions of great sensitivity that remain in the mind. There are no better illustrations than some of the lines from, ''Come Love'.

Moth dark the trees breathe quiet, and soft
Airs lift a scented sigh along the river.

Across the brindled stubble cobwebs dewed,
in silence lie the corn cut swathes,
stilled fountains the gilded sheaves.

Successive readings of these poems bring increasing rewards. To those who love poetry and do not yet know the work of Joy Finzi, read and discover!

Audrey Ingram, December 2002

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