(Written in the Duddon Valley, April 2018)
You had better be full of arrogance
before you walk through a valley
and dare to write a poem.
Be ready to shout it out, mind;
full-throated, roar it to the wind –
release it, wild and dominant.
Because if it can’t curl around the low woods
and climb the quarry roads, up slag piles,
to take its place in the white mist and rock
with all the high, slow-dying features
so worshipped by walkers in their soft fabrics;
if it can’t whip the river and knock the birds
off-course, smother the dry-stone walls
with moss-like hubris and establish
from slate-crack to sun-shaft
a colony of perfectly-chosen words,
an empire of ideas about a valley
that will subjugate every other poem,
put down your pen, don’t even draw breath –
your poem will wither and fall from your mouth.
Like a new-born lamb in a long night
of hard sleet, it will bleat into the dark
but no one will come to save it
or even notice it has lived and died.