Friday, October 14, 2016

Thursday - a poem

Curlews in April

Hang their harps over the misty valleys

A wobbling water-call
A wet footed god of the horizons

New moons sink into the heather
And full golden moons

Bulge over spent walls

Ted Hughes

Well I start with a poem by Ted Hughes, thumbing through his book of poems 'Remains of Elmet', looking at the dark black and white photographs of Fay Godwin and I am back on the train travelling to Todmorden through the Calder Vale, home to both the old Celtic land of Elmet, and home to Hughes of course.

There is a darkness, think I called it a funerary aspect to the valley, the houses, especially the weaver cottages, stained black by industry, the close hills on either side, the dark muddyness of the river.  Hebden Bridge, a potpourri of touristic shops, a hippy residence, pretty by the river, a typical small Northern town.  Further along where my family live in Todmorden, less glamourous, small shops of antiques and galleries amongst the cafes, the growing of edible plants in every spare corner, a 'green' domain caught up in this small town, or is it the overspill of the hippy residence of Hebden Bridge. 

One interesting fact is that the boundary line between Lancashire and Yorkshire falls straight through the Town hall and river to the North, reminding me of those small tribal countries, that once this country was made from between the time of the Romans and then the Normans, who strode onto the scene today I think, a few centuries back, and changed some of our ways - but not all.

My interest had been captured by the photography of Godwin, today we all have cameras and some of us use them with brilliance and yet Fay Godwin with her black and white photos was famed in her time.  She was a landscape photographer capturing the moment when the sky met the land and the seasons changed. 

She had been to the Isle of Lewis and photographed Callanish the great stone circle of the North, one could almost say the prehistoric cathedral of the North, far greater in its intricacies than Stonehenge but needing a pilgrimage of great stamina to reach!  Callanish after hail storm, you can buy it as the blurb across it says ;)  In her photos of the Caldervale she has captured the grittiness of the land, darkness holds sway, mirroring the dark Celtic tone of Hughes
Well all I can say that our part of yorkshire is dark and filled with rain, the leaves lie golden on the lawn, the trees drip with water as I let the chickens out this morning, but at least we are going out for lunch with some friends which should inspire the day.  And of course the thought of curlews in April though several months away gladdens the heart, thought I haven't heard any up on the moors this summer, except they have been in the fields round here.  The secret is to always look forward to the future!

a recognition of all those words and music of 1963 that inspired a generation to look at their world in a different way.  Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Prize in literature. Has it changed?


  1. Have just put on a post about Bob Dylan. Shall be interested to hear what you think, so do pop over.

    Our fields are absolutely awash with curlew at the moment but as yet no sign of fieldfares or redwings, although I understand they have been seen fairly near. Awful, miserable weather here.

    1. Well I have answered you Pat, one thing I would add no matter how many words you flood the world with, it does not actually get any better. Perhaps words are a retreat from the messiness of it all ;)
      Lucky you with the curlew call, now that I envy!

  2. " the leaves lie golden on the lawn"--what a lovely phrase--as I read I can hear it spoken!