James Ward’s ‘Gordale Scar’
It’s not a painting but a celebration,
This canvas, which seems huger than the room
It broods in, pastoral yet sybilline:
These hanging cliffs and brown romantic shades,
Darkness composed, and solitude imaged.
As for its subject – Upon the high limestone
Moors above Settle, you’ll find Gordale Scar
Deflated, an authentic diminution
Of the assertion of its picture here;
The gloom is not the mood, the scale is smaller.
No reality but in imagination:
The painting is more real than the place;
More than the thing is its interpretation,
Or than its interpreter, whose bias
Of feeling, here contained, transmutes to vision.
David Wright was born in Johannesburg on 1920, and was Gregory Fellow in Poetry at Leeds from 1965-7. In 1991 he was elected Honorary Fellow of Oriel College. Recent publications include Poems and Versions (Carcanet 1992) a volume of new and collected poems (Carcanet 1976) and a verse translation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Oxford Univerity Press).