By Lee Harwood
The ridges either side of the valley
were covered in dark pine forest.
The ploughed hill sides were red,
and the pastures were very green.
Constable’s landscape entitled “Weymouth”
is always in my mind at such times;
my memory of this small part of the
National Gallery surprises even me,
and maybe only I know how inevitable it all is.
The horsemen are riding through the forest
and at dusk they will halt on its edge
and then, after checking their instructions, ride carefully
down into the valley – delicately picking their way
through the small wood and fording the shallow river.
From then on it is not very far
to their destination. We both know this.
Somehow the action has at last gone beyond
the painting and this is for real.
But there can be no self-flattery on this account
– it has all been decided for us.
The illusions of freedom are at last
shown to be so obviously ridiculous that
most people cry at this point.
What it left is a canvas and paints
and a little time for distraction before the event.
It is not so much a justification – but saying
“Goodbye” now appears irrelevant.
All the lists and secret worlds have now been
exposed – there is little left to say.
“I did care, and the love I claimed
was and still is the miracle that continues
to astonish me. I love you.
It is only that death has forced
me into obeying its commands.
I am powerless and in its power.”
And that’s a personal statement and as true
I and honest as I can force the words to be.
The saddles creak and it’s almost dusk.
It doesn’t really matter whether this is
the real or a symbol – the end’s the same.