Esthwaite Water

From Ravenglass to Wreay each onyx lake Is held a jewel ringed by cloistered trees; Yet all are tranquil tideless land-lipped seas Upon whose shores no strident combers break. It opens wide, this unastonished land Accustomed to accept the stranger's eyes, To tell how stone and water glide and rise And mingle at the tarn's beach where we stand. We sense their silent music on a strand Or ragged sedge; nearby, calm cattle sleep Not minding whether fells are cold or steep, Embraced by love assured, and firm, and planned. All Nature's poems made by perfect mind Are clearly wrought; nor are they left unsigned. COMMENT: The English county of Cumbria embraces what is widely known as ``the Lake District.'' If one draws a line on the map from the town of Ravenglass in the west to Wreay in the northeast, that diagonal more or less traverses the district in which the dark, tranquil lakes lie. Most of the lakes are surrounded by sanded beaches, trees, and high-rising fells.

After traveling for some days through the Lake District, beloved by so many poets, I found myself on the strand of Esthwaite Water, a lake comparatively untouched by sightseers. Moved by the whole of my experience of the Lake District, and especially by the serenity of Esthwaite Water, I composed my sonnet.

In the poem I liken the lakes at first to jewels, calm and quiet; then I develop the imagery to suggest that they and their environs are carefully constructed poems of Nature made by the one creative mind with such love and assurance that the beasts of the field sleep secure in ``their silent music.'' In the final two lines I emphasize that natural poems are not only clearly crafted (``wrought''), but that the wise intelligence (``perfect mind'') that produces them places an indelible, unmistakable signature on them, for all who want to see.

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