Grange at the head of Derwent Water
Turner’s Alpine scenes, fifty times as grand,
astonish the eye, holding the viewer
in their awe-stricken spell. This miniature,
painted in the smallest sketchbook to hand,
laughs size to scorn. The jaws of Borrowdale
are a jewelled jigsaw of planes in blue,
the tiny trees giving us our only clue
as to the mountains’ mind-defeating scale.
A sandy tone softens Castle Crag: bare
contours are so saturated in light
that they beguile and bewitch the sight.
The peaks are held in outlines, flat and spare.
Who could imagine such a tranquil haven?
Calmness, smoothness and translucent space:
as if in glass, he caught the spirit of the place,
nearest to paradise if not to heaven.