On Constable’s “Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds” (Challenge #20)
by Pamella Bowen
O, dreamy scene of spire kissed by sun
And framed by ancient trees in foreground green
With water meadows, cows and shining brook,
Why do my heartstrings leap at sight of you?
When Constable put brush to canvas then
To paint your quintessential English view
He couldn’t know two centuries would pass
And still you’d find a lover here in me.
An Anglophile was I at seventeen
When first I saw your subject for myself,
Walking from the train to take a tour
Of nave and transepts, choir, cloisters, spire.
Is it your Englishness that so appeals
Or mem’ry of that far-off cherished joy—
My first time seeing such a holy sight,
In love with England’s green and pleasant land?
Or maybe it’s the fact that on those shores
My heart first felt the stirring touch of God,
When tears welled up in me and hotly fell,
Responding to an English preacher’s words.
I praise the Lord who blessed the artist’s hand
To capture with a brush the sacred scene
And masons’ hands six hundred years before
That fit the sandstone blocks with skill and grace.
What gift is Art the Holy spirit sends
To keep the Good News moving through the years,
From stone to paint to poem in my hand,
The Word has lived and lives and will live still.