This poem is the first-prize winner in the Art to Poetry challenge on Young Poets Network, in partnership with Artlyst. Each of the winning poems responds to a work of art.


by Elsie Hayward

after Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing ‘The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist’, kept in the dark room at the National Gallery

This love is kept in the dark.
You only visit it, through curtain
Of hush and black, you step
Into a different colour of time.
There is no eye meeting yours,

But a presence echoes softly,
A far-off lullaby descending
Dim staircase of years, reaching
Through layers of silent dark
To put a finger to half-smiling lips.

The bodies are near, their shapes
Too melted, flowing, for time to wrap
And carry away. This is all time.
This is flowers coming to bloom
Beneath ancient, yellowing haze,

This is warmth of lines meeting,
Skin against skin, hidden in coolness,
The softly steel cradle of gentle
Strokes, blanket of tender watch.
This is a first idea of love,

A locket always carried. Somewhere
Outside this small still offshoot
Of the real world, the other threads
Of the tapestry, living reflections,
Closer than is thought.

This is the heart that keeps
The darkness thin.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

More about the Poetry Society…

Tweets @PoetrySociety

“We are bored of fire, fire is so over, no one likes fire anymore. I am in poor health, tenuous, pursued by magicians.” ⁦@zimZalla⁩ in The Poetry Review ⁦@PoetrySocietyRetweeted by The Poetry Society

The @guardian view on poetry in schools: don't let it go Finding meaning in verse can be a challenge for teenagers. But it is also a joy, and letting them drop it is the wrong move.…

From #poem Like A Heatwave Burning by John Stammers I woke up hot crazy at one in the morning. The day’s sun had heated up the sky so heavy it felt like being ironed...…

From #poem Heat by H. D O wind, rend open the heat, cut apart the heat, rend it to tatters. Fruit cannot drop through this thick air— fruit cannot fall into heat that presses up and blunts the points of pears and rounds the grapes...

Happy to have new poems accepted by @no1_emily for the Poetry Review. And though I've had poems in the Poetry Review's Newsletter, this will be my first time to have poems in the journal. #poetry #PoetryReview @PoetrySociety… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

@PoetrySociety I still have my beloved annotated anthologies from GCSE & A level - my handwriting was a lot better then! Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Kate Tempest announces they are non-binary, changes name to Kae Performance poet, writer and musician said they had previously ‘tried to be what I thought others wanted me to be so as not to risk rejection’…