Joan Eardley Flood Tide
Joan Eardley, ‘Flood Tide’, 1962, oil on board. © the Eardley estate. Photo credit: EDLC

Lonely people are drawn to the sea.

Not for this artist the surge and glitter of salons,

Clutch of a sherry or making polite conversation.

See her when she is free:—

Striding into the salty bluster of a cliff-top

In her paint-splashed corduroys,

Humming as she recalls the wild shy boys

She sketched in the city, allowing nature’s nations

Of grasses and wild shy flowers to stick

To the canvas they were blown against

By the mighty Catterline wind –

All becomes art, and as if it was incensed

By the painter’s brush the sea growls up

In a white flood.

The artist’s cup

Is overflowing with what she dares

To think is joy, caught unawares

As if on the wing. A solitary clover,

Unable to read WET PAINT, rolls over

Once, twice, and then it’s fixed,

Part of a field more human than the one

That took the gale and is now

As she is, beyond the sun.


This poem was first published by The Herald, Glasgow on 3 September, 2016, as part of their Poem of the Day series.

When readers of the paper were asked to vote for their top ten paintings, Morgan was immediately inspired to pen ten poems which he sent to poetry editor Lesley Duncan personally. These were subsequently published in Beyond the Sun by Luath Press. On behalf of The Herald, Lesley Duncan then gave the handwritten poems to the Scottish National Library.

Flood Tide (Joan Eardley) is part of Women Painting: Scottish Art 1940-1980, an ongoing project by Susannah Thompson and Marianne Greated.