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DEDHAM VALE REVISITED

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Dedham Vale, John Constable, 1802

 

 

Dedham Vale, John Constable, 1828

 

 

September touches the Vale like a sigh,

a mellow, fruitful suspiration

edging from green to lemon, agitating

gently the skieyest leaves. The Stour

meanders to a sea of clouds vanishing

over an unimaginable Europe.

Dedham Church, a testament to wool,

focuses an especial scene: Saxon names,

corn marigolds, skylarks and enclosures.

 

After Napoleon, Peterloo and his wife’s

slow death, another canvas shows the same

landscape. New buildings exploit the river

and the church tower is luminous yet

vulnerable, not focal, to a whorl

of cumulus billowing from beyond

the horizon over dark, distressed elms.

Crouched under the overgrown bank of a lane,

the last you see of the painting, with her tent

and her cooking pot, a tramp woman

nurses a child under the tumbling sky.[1]



[1] The poem was first published in the Anglo-Welsh Review, has previously been published on this site and is one of the most visited.

 

 

 

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