The Moat by John Nash…exhibited in The Tate

Languishing with a cough, my thoughts went to to the
days of freedom when we could all go out and walk in
the country. I remembered Nash’s glorious picture of
the Moat and ransacked my bookshelves to find a copy
of it. Hurry up the days of freedom so we can all look
at everything!


I never saw the moat
Like that before.
The clear grey water
Holding tight the lovely ghost
Of Winter Thorn.
The thin branched Birch
Pushing aside the sky,
That the grey moat paths
May, as usual, lead the fox
Into the dark fields sulking.

Now, whenever I look
Into that still water,
Whether Spring breezes play
Cat and mouse with the sparkling
Drops of living silver,
Or summer leaves stipple
The calm brown surface,
That spare and beautiful image of winter
Will always be with me,
Always be in my watchful eyes.

                     ©2021 Gwen Grant.



The blackbird sends
Notes of gold
Drifting over the garden,
Turning colour into music.
The singing,
Strong and sweet,
Calling memories to mind
Of sunny days,
Of gold touching
Thoughtful faces,
Of sudden rain
On lovely evenings,
Of drowsy flowers
Dripping melodies
From sunlit fingers.

Long blue notes
Gathering sparkling reds, yellows,
Oranges and sweeping greens

Until the red robin
Hustles in,
Its fierce and perfect song
Scattering everything
To the four winds.
Plunging a startled world
Into a new opera
Demanding attention.

The soft sigh
Of a butterfly wing,
The smoky croak
Of a frog in the river,
The harsh shout of a crow
Adding their own notes
Of joy on this golden
Summer morning.

         ©2021 Gwen Grant.



We all have our own Gethsemane
When times are against us,
When, faultless and perfect,
Darkness no longer has an airy lightness
But falls upon us
With the full weight of sorrow.

From Gethsemane there comes always
That long walk to the crucifixion of hope,
That slow procession into loneliness,
That sombre step into a darkness where love
Becomes nothing but an old and lovely dream.

Yet that dark garden flames
With the resurrection of a living hope,
Throwing light into the darkness,
Bringing peace to the desolate,
Making all love new,
Its eternal promise forever redeeming,
That where love is,
Time no longer has any meaning.

© 2015 Gwen Grant





Sometimes, I gather up all the words I love and watch
them playing together.
It doesn’t do to have favourites, I know that,
But who can resist words that sizzle on the page and dance.
Some so irresistible whole poems are built around them.

Colours are always delectable,
Weaving their way through every get-together.
Colour words do, of course, have to be dealt with extremely carefully,
As favouring lemon over green
Will attract very sharp looks from orange.

Full stops and commas, paragraphs, colons, semi-colons,
Little Latin phrases, ‘Et tu, Brutus,’ etcetera, etcetera,
And those little raindrop marks that attend every speech,
Must all be taken into account
But can be missed out altogether if careless of censure.

A word of advice.
Do not ever forget the numbers family,
For if they are ignored or forgotten they get quite vocal,
Even a little spiteful and unforgiving.

No!  Keep them in sight at all times,
Insisting they play nicely. 
One and one making two, for instance.
Otherwise, you can never bring them to order,
Even when put into really pleasant columns,
They remain difficult and wilful.

 But there we are, that’s words and things for you.

                                © 2020 Gwen Grant




In that hour of the afternoon,
Quiet and bare, the leaves having long since fallen,
The woods set firm, thick and heavy,
Sending shape and shadow creeping towards us,
My friend lay in the bunk next to mine
And I watched her.

Watched the bunk slowly topple over,
Saw her black hair suddenly veiled with blossom,
A slow and icy blossom of snow,
Touching her closed eyes, restless and flickering
Under their thin brown skin covering.

I could not breathe for fear but fell beside her,
Lying there, watching her, anxiously whispering.
I could not move until they picked her up,
Gathering her to them like a fallen flower,
A crumpled petal.  Carrying her away.

Now the wicked woods shook with laughter,
Bare branches creaking with loss
And its greedy companion, loneliness.
Snow falling quietly on all the little girls
Lying in the snow and icy air.

                                          © 2019 Gwen Grant