Greta Bridge

A poem in response to John Sell Cotman's painting, 'Greta Bridge'

Greta Bridge

Greta Bridge

It’s autumn now; there’s not a hint of green.
The rounded shapes are soothing shades of brown.
The river’s low, with an unruffled silver sheen.

He moves you inward from dark foreground stones
which stand in their grey shadows to the curve
formed by the bridge, through which in subtler tones

you see, framed as a perfect egg, low buildings lie
close to the water’s edge: reflections caught
in shaded calm, as through an inner eye.

The coaching-house is angled, four-square, strong,
fronting the trees, its Georgian forehead high.
The bridge is low in York stone, nearly level, long.

The balanced interlocking planes are clean:
each edge and angle focused by the eye
that watches from the centre: cool, serene.

You’d have to stand and stare for a long time
in meditative peace before you’d dare
to lift your brush, or paint the view in rhyme.