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Translating from the Visual 3: Constable’s ‘View on the River Stour’

John Constable's 'View on the Stour near Dedham' | Christie's

Aching feet.

the first thing that comes to mind is 

aching feet.

But there’s also muddy boots,

mackerel sandwiches,

being shushed through silent galleries, 

and verdant green turning to sandy soil.

There’s the squeaking of shoes on the parquet,

passing antique and renaissance 

Onto landscapes (19th century):

an older man inside looking at

his natural habitat

and “Just one more mile.”

There’s the reeds on the riverbank,

willow fronds trailing,

estuary, marsh, forest, flats

Stour, Waveney, Gipping, Rat

smoothed onto canvas.

There’s a moorhen

black and white-

the mime of the bird world 

and there she is, trying 

to make breadcrumbs

reach the middle 

of the lake.

“Constable country”-

it clears the throat.

South Suffolk and

North Essex:

Con-

stable

Coun-

try.

Don’t put your hands in the water,

she says,

you’ll get Lyme disease.

She wouldn’t live to hear me get it

decades later

at the age of twenty-three 

from a German tick embedded

in the crook of my knee.

By annaputsover

Translator and English tutor

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