our world is not always a nice place to be so let’s take off for paradise to do that we must dream so make a wish and dream the dreams made from memories choose daydreams for they are made from pleasant ones precious jewels of remembered moments of childhood pleasures recreated in golden colours under warm and generous skies for what is nirvana but bliss a perfect quietude remembered from that golden age when cares were so far away as to be invisible and joy was present in the simplicity of a walk in a spring meadow in hesitant steps across a bubbling beck in that breath of early evening air bringing the scent of heather and with it the rustle of new leaves bursting to catch the evening air amongst the rolling northern hills the cradled landscape of that now distant home forever a part of my being both bedrock and comfort of my present and succour of my hopes for the future
‘Every man is searching for the place he belongs.’ James Joyce
Where do I belong Is it my birthplace Or some other place where I have laid my head?
I no longer search For I am secure in knowing with increasing certainty My heart still lives in the hills of my childhood home It awakes each morning with the scent of bracken and heather And the soft green turf of the rolling moor Even at such long removed time and space These tastes, these smells, these images In the quiet moments of my active day Have an unnerving reality Sustain my being and nourish the silence of my soul Rarely do the comforting memories engendered Leave me dispirited and downcast Seldom do the doubts of my waking troubles Not gain encouragement from the solidity The comforting certainties of my history And I have never lost their throbbing power To anchor the passage of fleeting time In the calm and stillness of my reflection
‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.‘ King James Bible . . . Matthew 6:34. ‘Sermon on the Mount’
Yes … Tomorrow is another day One more locked-down day to bear While for me the world outside attempts to hide from view Yet I know that Somewhere The sun shines, while elsewhere snow’s warmth blankets the tumbling hills The rain is working its vernal wonders in the forest and the world’s waves beat upon its brackish shores
My life’s sideshow cowers in lockdown’s shade The life I once learnt to live fades And a new one awaits Granted by science and by human endeavour A new path to wend – to explore A road less travelled which I must learn to love The old well-tbeaten ways no longer lead to certainty only to danger and distress And so amidst a tangled understanding of right and wrong The future lives on in uncertainty’s haze
He had died of his wrinkles Liver spots and age lines Gnarled and creviced skin Dusted and singed By his Lifetime’s fevered furnace His lungs smoke-charred Legacy of a thousand undoused fires
As old as the hills he trod As the bubbling beck he bled I see six stalwart pall bearers Hard as ancient twisted nails Arise from their bed of iron Raise the dead-weight anvil His final ferrous coffin To shoulder height Begin a steady passage Through the leaden winter streets Beneath those snow-clad Northern Hills Their shrouded clouded sky Seemingly forever draped Atop the silent iron tomb
Carried through the dark gate To its final resting place Fitting memorial to a smith’s life Gifted again to the ironstone earth
In memoriam: Harold Booth, Yorkshire blacksmith & farrier; 1909 – 1987
When Hopkins gloried in dappled things He must have thought of angels’ wings Of gossamer and cuckoo spit Of candles flicker-lit
As Palmer did In silent chapels In Kentish fields
Of darkening woods where sunlight hides In sheepland pastures
On downy hills
In buttercup meadows Where linnet trills
The silent raptures Of sunset light On autumn trees Where swoops the kite
And evening captures The thickening shadows
The cooling breeze Midst fields of golden rippling corn That now adorn the rustic scene
Such glory in apple blossom seen
As they, with Blake, Held in their hand Those grains of sand To wonder more How Nature’s glory Explains itself In storm And stillness In calm and frenzy Light and shade In setting sun And mounting moon
The evening’s glaze In bounteous harvest Nature’s cavalcade
I need to listen to that hidden sound of silence the murmur that thrills lost souls and as it swells reverberates among those distant heathered hills
I crave to hear it burgeon on that lonely land that misty moor of distant memory where dwell lush images of the Green Hill of the High Cliff the Cass Rock the Apple Garth and the bubbling burbling beck its red waters blooding its banks with reminders of its ferrous track
A distant memory rising from deep beneath those ancient northern hills born of Nature’s cycle birthed in ironstone and nurtured in those recurring dreams of my youth and the lasting images of my old age
The streams descending from the hills Ran red with the iron they brought. It could as well have been lost blood For all the wealth they sought.
Plenteous in ore and rich in scope Those Northern hills were ravaged; In the name of thrusting Revolution My native land was savaged.
The earth’s spoils harvested to feed the world’s gross need for steel; So while the master’s pockets bulged No stop to progress’s wheel.
The cost was counted in toil and sweat, In the maiming of the land, And the crying of unnumbered souls Who did not understand.
NOTE: There were 400 fatalities at Eston, North Yorkshire, in the 100 years (in the 19th and early 20th Centuries) the mines were worked there in the Eston Hills, between Cleveland and the River Tees Estuary.
Yes, my youth brought many vital moments among my native hills. Such interludes return now in flashback and in dreams in vignettes and in echoes; instances of acute sensitivity, memories more precious and persistent as year passes into year.
I wish I had been more alive then, more interwoven with my surroundings, instinctively attached to the skies above and to the rolling landscape below.
For there, on the vast wide-open moorland where, above my breathing, what I heard, was only the sound of the bees visiting the sun-yellow gorse, and the sighing rustle of the breeze playing amongst the curls of bracken, the blackbirds circling above in the sundown dusk, calls of the curlew, lapwing and meadow pipit lost in broom , hidden in heather.
Sometimes, in the bliss of solitude’s memory, I have known a disregard for time itself, and I sense I would happily reach eternal slumber in the rapturous throes of such longing.