Art Class

There is much that should be altered here.
The cloud in the left-hand corner
is not really necessary.
The two people who stand by the door
of the farm look far too homely.
I would transfer them to the fields
with bent and aching backs,
hoeing turnips, but not picking strawberries,
I think. Strawberries smack of decadence,
bringing marquees, or debutantes,
or even fêtes to mind.
The tree which stands behind the house
is too stark, so why not make it two.
And remove the birds.
Yes, cut out the ornithology.
People see too much of them anyway;
two wings, a beak, legs like an undercarriage.
Give me your brush,
and I will paint them out, so that it will be
as if they had never dotted your canvas.
The light's not bad, not bad at all,
but it isn't the kind of light we like to see
in paintings nowadays. Rather sombre,
I thought, as if the two lonely figures
in the field might soon pack up
and go home for tea.
This is the trouble with your work, you see:
it seems to have a life of its own.
For myself, I would have them drinking wine,
and lift the whole lot from Wales to Brittany.

from Two Women Dancing: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 1995), copyright © Elizabeth Bartlett 1995, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd


Elizabeth Bartlett

Elizabeth Bartlett Reading from her poems

1My Five Gentleman

2Painting of a Bedroom with Cats


4Disposing of Ashes

5The Visitors

6999 Call

7Charlotte, Her Book

8Stretch Marks

9To Tracy with Love

10Egg Tempera

11Art Class

12Entering Language

13Themes for Women

14The Limbo Line

15Notes for a Thesis on the Thirties

16The Winter Gardens

17North Terminal

18The Harrods of Porth

19Deutschmarks and Lemon Trees

20Legends and Realities


22The Winter's Tale



25The Lace Maker

26The Beautiful Knees of the Visiting Lay Preacher



29The Geldings


Books by Elizabeth Bartlett