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Uncommon poems that transform the commonplace

By Margaret TsudaMargaret Tsuda is a poet and essayist. / December 9, 1981



Kaleidoscope Plus, by Rosemary Cobham. London: Partnership Editions/Shepheard-Walwyn (Suite 85, 12/13 Henrietta Street, WC2 UK). 159 pp. $ 13.95 (slipcase edition).

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We remember our childhood delight when we received our first kaleidoscope, our wonder at the infinite succession of bright, shifting color patterns. Rosemary Cobham's poems do indeed suggest subtle, brilliant kaleidoscopic changes. Many in this volume have appeared on The Home Forum page of this newspaper. In her mosaic, the themes move from the joys of the countryside to the beauties of a well-loved London; from those sketching in warm human relationships to those which give the poet's perceptive, contemporary insights into Christian and other biblical themes.

This posthumous collection, ''Kaleidoscope Plus,'' should not be confused with an earlier paperback collection, called simply, ''Kaleidoscope.'' One ''plus'' is the handsome hard binding with a matching blue slipcase. Another is that the section titled, ''The Quiet Place,'' has been expanded with half again as many poems. The addition of four ''Letters to Lisette'' is definitely another ''plus.'' In these essays Rosemary Cobham gave tender and wise advice to a young friend sent off to boarding school despite her ''woe-ful pigtails''; answered her later questions about social activity, gardening, and writing.