A more unconventional kind of find...? Find!
The internet is a brilliant tool for any Reading Detective, and it also means that many "finds" can be instantly accessed by readers.
This is certainly true of of my next find, which, I have to confess, as finds go is slightly different.
It isn't a book, or a pamphlet, and it isn't a travel guide or a diary.
It IS more poetry... but maybe not in the expected sense.
It isn't just one poem, but a collection of 12 poems... all of which are carved into stone and incorporated into walls and stiles, or planted like milestones along the route of footpath walk in Kirkby Stephen! I did say it was more of an unconventional kind of find!
The 12 short poems look at a year in the life of a fellside farmer, with each month's poem and carving portraying some of the activities which a farmer will carry out in that particular month.
As the walker follows the route which loops from Stenkrith near Kirkby Stephen to Hartley and back, they can examine the farming calendar from lambing to hedge-laying and hay-making to harvest, through these evocative little poems.
Whilst they are very brief these poems speak volumes, and, an extra dimension can also be added to a the walk, as rubbings can be taken from the stones, using paper and a wax crayon - just like doing a brass rubbing.
The poems have all been written by Meg Peacocke, a published and acclaimed poet, who also happens to live on a Cumbrian hill farm.
Meg was born in 1930 and grew up in South Devon. She read English at Oxford, after which she taught, travelled, got married, had four children, trained in counselling and worked in a children's cancer unit, then moved north to Cumbria where she writes and also tutors in poetry.
Meg has had 3 poetry collections published and a couple of years ago, she was awarded the prestigious Cholmondeley Award by the Society of Authors for 'distinction in poetry' - previous recipients include Norman Nicholson (another great Cumbrian poet!), Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott.
The Poetry Path was first suggested by Dick Capel of East Cumbria Countryside Project as a way of celebrating the landscape of the Eden Valley, after the 2001 Foot & Mouth epidemic highlighted the link between traditional farming and the county's landscape and wildlife.
Through history, wool, sheep farming, and hill farmers have been vital to Cumbria's economic and geographic landscape and have made it what it is today.
Nowadays the farmers have vital roles as custodians of the natural environment combined with contributing to the country's economy and food production.
Meg's poems succinctly convey a strong sense of place bound up with the economic and environmental importance of farming.
Her immensely evocative descriptive powers can be seen, for example, in the poem for June:
Light drops like honey from branch to branch. Elders
balance their dishes of cream,
while fledgelings try small quivery leaps, testing
the buoyancy of the air.
Isn't that just wonderful?!
Her art is equally demonstrated in August's poem:
Crabapples tart on the tongue,
Rosehips cool in the hand,
Squirrel is speaking his mind.
Knapweed purples the banks.
For touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing
I give thanks.
I have actually walked this footpath myself and it is a real delight in every sense...and for every sense. I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in the area to do it, and Mary and I have plans to arrange a Reading Group visit there...if it ever stops raining that is!
Luckily for anyone who wants to read the poems and get a feel for the walk without getting wet (!) or travelling all the way up to Cumbria, the guide to the walk can be viewed online and downloaded from: http://www.eccp.org.uk/images/great-days-out/PoetryPath2.pdf
This is a photo of one of the poems on the walk.
Penned in a huddle, the great tups
are clints of panting stone. The shepherd lifts
a sideways glance from the labour
of dagging tails. His hands are seamed with muck
and the sweat runs into his eyes.
Above us, a silent plane has needled
the clear blue. Paling behind it
a crimped double strand of wool unravels.
30 August 2009 from Helen
- On Lindale Hill
- Grange-over-Sands: The Story of a Gentle Township
- The Silent Traveller: A Chinese Artist in Lakeland
- Red Ike
- Cumbrian Privies
- Ethel Fisher's West Cumbrian Dialect titles
- The Embalmer's Book of Recipes by Ann Lingard
- Nella Last's Peace
- Riding the Stang by Dawn Robertson
- Life on the Fell - a pictorial chronicle of a Lakeland community
- About Scout Scar
- William Wilberforce - A Summer Diary 1779
- Beatrix Potter - the unknown years
- Smoke over Shap by Margaret Potter
- Songs of a Cragsman by George Basterfield
- The Grasmere Dialect Plays
- The Grizedale Experience: Sculpture, Art & Theatre in a Lakeland Forest
- An Atlas of The English Lakes
- How Hall. Poetry and Memories. A Passion for Ennerdale by Tom Rawling
- Stumpy, Hero of the Lakes
- The High Places by A. Harry Griffin
- The Highest House in Wathendale
- Kendal by Roger Bingham
- Secrets and Legends of Old Westmorland
- Reminiscences of Wordsworth Among the Peasantry of Westmorland by Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley
- Little Gods by Jacob Polley
- A Lakeland Summer
- Hunter of Harter Fell by Joseph E Chipperfield
- And Nobody Woke Up Dead
- An accessible paradise
- The Fleming Family novels and Graham Sutton
- Excursion to Loweswater. A Lakeland Visit 1865
- Writing on the Wall
- Beyond Scafell by Alan Robinson
- Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole
- Kendal In The Nineteenth Century by A Wainwright
- In There Somewhere
- The Bondwomen by W G Collingwood
- "Ah'd Gaa Back Tomorra!"
- A Cumbrian Copper by Ray Huddart
- The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards
- Old Will Stories by Dudley Hoys
- The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff
- T'Bacca Queen by Theodora Wilson Wilson
- Furness and the Industrial Revolution
- The Shadow of Black Combe
- The Painted Letters of Percy Kelly
- Ivver Sen
- Lakeland in the 1830s
- Wasdale Climbing Book By Michael Cocker
- Riding High by Barbara Sneyd
- Deborah in Langdale
- Early Recollections of Grange
- Hazard's Way by Roger Hubank
- Yan, Tan, Tethera
- Talk of the Town
- Capturing the Mountains
- Hope On, Hope Ever
- Mildred Edwards: Our City Our People 1889 - 1978 Memories
- Lakeland Limericks
- Surrounding loveliness
- Haweswater by Sarah Hall
- Coast to Coast by Jan Minshull
- Sunshine To The Sunless
- Geese, cattle wallopers and secret Irish paths
- Anarchists, Angels and wet Bank Holiday Mondays
- A more unconventional kind of find...?
- Skiddaw Summit by Kathleen Jones
- Thorstein of the Mere: A Saga of the Northmen in Lakeland
- Wednesday Early Closing
- Smoke Across The Fell
- The Sand Pilot of Morecambe Bay
- The Chronicles of Boggerthwaite
- Carrock Fell
- Feet in the Clouds
- Hercules and the Farmer's Wife
- Shepherd's Warning
- The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices
- I've been so busy reading I haven't had time to blog!
- Reading Detectives film
- Thank you!
- Coffee and books at the Bluebell Bookshop
- Mary learns to blog!
- Lucky 13!
- Grange over Sands get reading
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