Upper Falls of the Reichenbach
If you were the tiny cowherd with his dog
would you hear the cattle’s tinkling bells
above the din and roar?
At the mountain’s edge, would you
look up, to where the mighty torrent pours,
or only backward, downward, towards home?
If it had a language, this painting would speak
one word, sehnsucht, keen as nostalgia,
continuous as love-longing: an ache.
Everything is falling – water, sunlight, spray,
the jutting cliff, and vying with it all,
as if for once outdone, the luminescent bow.
Stand back, stand well back, so you can take in
the scale, and grasp the whole.
You’re smaller than the cowherd, and you fall.
JMW Turner, 'The Upper Falls of the Reichenbach