View from Sheep Field Barn, Much Hadham

J.S. Watts

Who knew that sheep could sing?
Their bleated cantabile echoes round the hills
and down their deepest cavities,
opening up the inside to meet the out.
The hills up North were as smooth as love
and as hard as granite,
rattling with children, child full,
each struggling for its place in the mother’s arms.
Here soft green blankets are unrolled
over the gentle undulations of unknown sleepers.
A woman wakes, emerges from the landscape
and is silently folded back in again,
a dreaming shape within the loam.
Sheep chalk mark the green swathes,
dotting out patterns for a giant’s suit.
Trees twist around the margins, etching
the field edge with gnarled frames.
I see a family, green as grass,
holding their only child like a precious egg,
wide awake with their burden,
while around them giant sleepers slumber on.
Life reclines with them, expecting everything,
offering only all it’s got.
Reality emerges quietly from deep abstraction
as up above a cloud line swoops
with the curve of a thigh,
the pristine arc of a swan,
rounded egg-like, a globe,
the whole world polished into eternity.
Let me hold you like I hold myself,
like the stone embraces the child.
Life ripples into song and is carved in the act
in bark etched bronze, mighty as a hill,
as the world turns stone as
stone becomes the world
folding itself into its infinite embrace.

The great sculptor Henry Moore had his estate at Much Hadham in Hertfordshire, England. The gardens are studded with his massive works.

This poem won third prize in the Yeovil Literary Prize for Poetry 2015 and was published in the events programme and subsequently in my 2016 poetry collection, Years Ago You Coloured Me.

Poetry Atlas has some other poems about Hertfordshire.

Main Location:

Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, England

Sheep and sculpture mix at Much Hadham, Hertfordshire