Posts tagged ‘Yorkshire Dales’

10/04/2018

Ghosts of the River Wharfe

The River Wharfe between Appletreewick and the Strid is one of the most beautiful and iconic stretches of water in the British Isles. It features in a number of my tales, especially “Summer Dusk” in Abandon Hope and “Descending, or Falling” in the final pamphlet, The Wedding Invitation.

river wharfe

The river valleys of the Yorkshire Dales function as a kind of destination in these tales. For the central characters in “Summer Dusk” it is a place of final freedom, of oneness with nature. In “Descending, or Falling” it becomes a resting place of a different nature.

A river is rarely seen as an image of destination. It passes through the country, it is a conduit, something to travel. It is the metaphor of a continuing journey or of learning. The unique nature of the Yorkshire Dales makes this conventional reading less persuasive.

wharfe roots

The rivers are at the heart of the Dales. They are crossed, they are a focus, they are at the center of villages, they feed the fields and are fed by the moors. They define the valleys which they follow, but which were not made by them (being glacial). Few people actually travel down them.

Barden, at the center of this stretch of the Wharfe, has as a timeless quality about it. It has castle ruins, an 18th Century bridge, a Late Victorian Gothic aquaduct. On the river mandarin ducks, dipper and kingfishers can be seen. The woods around the river hold roe deer and woodcock. In the skies above red kite, osprey and sparrowhawk wheel. In spring the flowers are incredible. In the autumn, the mists melt the trees and the moors into one.

barden aquaduct

It is not surprising that this idyllic and yet atmospheric river is full of ghosts. They gather, they rise, free and eternally in peace. This is their resting place.

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31/03/2018

Beyond A Gothic Love Story

The gothic is not an epithet that fits neatly on the Yorkshire Dales. There are places that encapsulate the sublime, but for every Barden Tower, Penygent and Gordale Scar there are gentle villages, pastoral scenes and idyllic river valleys. Even the moors in the limestone areas have less of the bleakness of the sour moss expanses of the West Yorkshire and Lancashire fells. It elicits a different form of emersion. not one of a monochrome bleakness, and not one of unremitting gloom.

The Dales are a balance between the wild and the gentle. As such, they lend themselves to a more complex reading. There is no overarching narrative into which they fit. It is in this context that I write my short tales. There is no single story. They move from moor top to valley floor, from waterfall to village hall, to the unknown places beyond.

The tales are also – with a few exceptions – written at the human level. These are not stories of a distant otherness. The ghosts inhabit the same many layered universe as the people, the creatures and the settings. The feelings they evoke and their purpose both in the narrative and in the ‘world’ – are equally difficult to pin down. Some of the hauntings are a release, some a revelation, some an invocation, only on occasions do horror and fear surface: not, you could say, typically “gothic”. At root, in a way, they are – together – a love story.

The third and final sampler pamphlet from the Ghosts and Other Tales introduction series, “The Wedding Invitation” is released on April 13th. It will be available in hard copy and Kindle Editions, along with Parts 1 and 2 (“Abandon Hope” and “Ghosts”).

Images of Leeds Liverpool Canal, Gargrave and two images from St Andrews Church Gargrave.

Copyright Gavin Jones

24/08/2013

The Song of Ondine (Limestone Dales) – video poem

 

 

video poem for the piece Limestone Dales – one of the poems from the sequence The Song of Ondine.

This piece was filmed on location at various waterfalls around the Yorkshire Dales, places with a long association with water spirits and elementals.

03/08/2013

A Breath (A Stream) – video poem

 

 

A video poem of the piece A Breath (A Stream). This video poem was filmed in the summer of 2013, and is of the upper reaches of the River Wharfe (Yorkshire Dales National Park, England).

It is one of a series of video poems made to accompany my 14 line poetry.

 

The words for the poem can be found in this collection (below).

31/07/2013

High Summer at the Roman Fort (Mastile’s Lane) – video poem

 

a video poem by set around the site of a Roman fort on Mastile’s Lane, above Malham in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

the written version of this video poem can be found at:

http://www.thecheesewolf.wordpress.com

 

this video poem is copyright Gavin Jones 2013

30/07/2013

High Summer at the Roman Fort (Mastile’s Lane)

 

I heard the ravens calling south,

And crows and jackdaws called as loud.

They tumbled off towards the scar,

And hung on uplifts by the cliff.

 

I heard the promise of the clouds,

The tick of wheatear, buzz of wire,

The ceaseless flowing of the grass,

The voice of bees, the songs of breeze.

 

The sounds were here, were always here,

Were here when Romans piled their stones,

And here to carry off the screams

Of sacrifice to temple gods.

 

I heard the ravens call the rain,

I heard them call through time again.

 

 

04/07/2013

Pipit – Lapwing – Swallow – Chaffinch

 

Up on the moor tops, fields are cut,

And soon the berries will be ripe.

Amongst the heather, pipit rich,

The tewits fake their broken wings.

 

I think too hard about the words.

The sun is low and burns the eyes.

The dry stone walls form broken lines.

I hear the words, but cannot write.

 

And down below, the dale is dark,

Its words are carved on whispered stones.

Around the empty chapel hall

The swallows coax unwilling young.

 

So this is summer in the north:

A chaffinch calls at mottled skies.

 

 

18/02/2013

Magpie

 

If only there was nothing left

To take – I’d free my shimmered voice:

Released to sing as thrushes sing,

At dawn, at sunset, call the earth.

 

If only I could hide away,

The fields would know my tranquil heart.

A peace which only plovers know:

I’d be – and nothing more than that.

 

But then you’d lose the glittered back,

The gleaming iridescent wings,

The gathered glory of my nest,

The golden rings and silver silk.

 

I wonder if you’d miss the “chack”

And chattered questions I shout back?

10/02/2013

The Barn Owl

 

Defying earth and air and moon.

An essence made of sky and flight:

Your every silent bob and feint

Will stop a heart, or still the dew.

 

Defy mechanics, vault the clouds,

And shatter every shackled thought.

You see through roots, through night, through time,

And fly on questions, drift on mist.

 

Defy the senses, hide in sight,

You hear the elements combine.

You are the opposite of weight,

You are the miracle they missed.

 

Defying life’s fragility,

You scream impossibility.

 

 

13/01/2013

As a Flock of Waxwings in the Beech

 

These leaves of beech first breathed in spring,

And trembled, touched by summer rains,

Turned copper crisp through autumn frosts,

And with our coming, shiver on.

 

We flick our wings against the thorns

Of sloe and brittle bramble shrub,

We take our pick of haws and hips.

Amongst the beech we hide from hawks.

 

On winter nights the starlight calls

Of redwing heading further south:

The finest needle points of fear.

We huddle then behind the leaves.

 

We wait together in the beech.

We fly together in the snow.

 

 

30/12/2012

The Sylph of Dales’ Song

 

Above the hills and northern dales,

Above the outcrops on the moors,

Above the mists and passing rains,

Above the senses and the dreams,

 

It saw the world for what it was.

It smoothed the waters, rocks and flames.

It watched the changing, watched the lulls.

It wrapped the world and lungs it filled.

 

It quivered with the wings of birds,

It gathered all their voices up,

It kept them for the sun to breathe,

It kept them for the stars to grieve.

 

Above the beauty of the skies,

Above the tales, above the lives.

 

 

08/01/2012

Treecreeper

 

They live another planet’s life,

Their world a maze of creviced wood ,

And flakes of bark and spider’s webs.

They seek the scent of insect’s paths.

 

And up they spiral, ever up –

Their probing, prizing spikes of beaks

Are thrust into the rotten reek –

They never reach the canopy.

 

Then out across the autumn woods

Where fungal spores spread sickly mats,

They claim their trees with needle trills

Like crystal wrens at misting dawn.

 

In otherness they live their lives,

As alien spirits of the oaks.

 

08/01/2012

Ring Ouzel

 

A lunar crescent, skyward horned.

A tail which traces scree and ling.

A plaintive tone, a mournful tune.

A solitary black and bib.

 

Alone in rocks above the scars,

Where streams from bogs first scratch their beds

With steady tick like lowland merle,

A lost and wayward song of moors.

 

The moon is pitched in afterglow

And scattered with the trace of stars.

The melancholy call of space

A flick of night pitched wing and gone.

 

And left as one with what was once,

The sadness of a memory’s song.

02/01/2012

Tawny Owl

 

You look into the forest’s depths,

The twists of branches, knots of fear,

Reflected panic of the dusk,

And through the tangle: night black eyes,

 

Or ember eyes, or mirror moons,

Or timeless worlds which pluck in dark

The twitching, writhing remnant lives,

Before the silent wings fold back.

 

And trees cloak round to hide the deaths,

To save the torment of the rest.

The forest floor forgets what’s passed,

And carries on with nothing lost.

 

Pressed tight against the oak tree’s trunk,

A night of killing hides in day.

02/01/2012

Yellow Wagtail

 

The gentle rains have summoned gold

From limestone walls as light as leaf.

The summer citrine floating gems

Are raised to shine on sundewed peat.

 

Their calls as fine as spider’s silk

Are threaded through the spikes of sedge,

And bright as mirrors to the sun

Chase heaven in a skyward vault.

 

As fragile as the cotton grass:

Arrive in April, dance in May,

Come autumn join the swallows south

And leave the hills to still and grey.

 

The yellow wagtail’s second life:

Is gleaming in the Sahel’s sands.

02/01/2012

Grey Wagtail

 

The river racer, foam of sulphur,

Is dart and shivered mercury.

A scattered feather, pitched in peat,

Which whisks the water’s surface clean.

 

A never still, a bobbing weave,

A flight and dance, a flip of tail,

Its tick tricks time, alarmed and shrill,

Is chasing after waterfalls.

 

Then up and gone on undulations:

A shallow trace of wings and air;

A shadow left on deeper reaches;

A moment’s fire of fight and life.

 

And left, a woodland’s damp is hanging,

Awaiting echoes from the streams.

 

(first published in the collection “From the Shore”, 2011 – Shore Poets)