On First Seeing Turner's
Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth Making Signals in Shallow Water, and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the "Ariel” left Harwich




The swirling light reflects my awareness 

and I arch my eyes to get a grip.

The artist asks too much of me,

whose life has passed in Pure Land calm.

I, too, am boundnot to sketch but to stare.

The seer has been drawn in person by the artist

to this inevitable mural point,

to gawk and to wonder where the Work begins,

this journey of ghostly forms and wet.

I searched for a lifeline and found none.

But curves curled me up and returned me

to my centre, my beholder—

I am Turner;

lash’d to a frame in a passionless gallery

while my project is at sea.

And I wonder:

how may the world be painted so

that nothing is missing yet something is found?

I wish to know and I wish to see.


Copyright ©  Peter Twohig. All rights reserved.