Right to Roam, 80 years on

April 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

Kinder Downfall, 24 April 1932

The mass trespass on Kinder Scout, in which 400 ramblers walked onto the plateau in defiance of the landowner, the Duke of Devonshire, was the key catalyst of the Right to Roam movement and the establishment of the National Parks.

The wind makes faces in the grit stacks:
totems and gargoyles squint and grimace.
The air here is half water: mouths suck
and gape in the rock.  Bristle grass,
brown, bone-pale, shudders like hide,
grips each edge and cleft.
It is endless, a stranded reef
which seeps and surges indefinitely.
Paths slip under streams; pools hover;
stones become sheep become stones.

Look out.  Follow the water’s drop
into green distance.  There is sun
glinting the reservoir, its drafted edges
bright as a chalk horse; there is a town
in the hills’ shade that was once
a gathering place.
The wind is hard from the west,
a skein of voices in it, thin but clear
as curlews’.  Their songs’ rising
crests the brown moor and flies.

This poem was written for The Seven Wonders, a project initiated by artist Paul Evans which revisited Thomas Hobbes’ De Mirabilibus Pecci: Being the Wonders of the Peak in Darbyshire.  Other poets contributing to the project were Mark Goodwin, James Caruth, Chris Jones and Matthew Clegg.

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