A Celebration of Words

Events seem to be like buses. It’s a while since I’ve done one, but next month I’ve got two in the space of two weeks1 I’ve already posted here about the launch event for the paperback edition of Revolution Day (see A Date for your Diary) on 24 April. Before that, on Monday 10 April, at 7.30 at Holmfirth Library, I’ll be participating in A Celebration of Words. This event is organised by Holmfirth Writers Group in collaboration with the Friends of Holmfirth Library and Tourist Information Centre.

There will be readings of poems and short prose pieces – members of the public are welcome to come along and read too, or just listen – and free refreshments.  I hope to see lots of my friends there, in support and celebration of this brilliant library at a time of funding cuts and uncertainty. And it’s going to be great!

Anyway, here’s a poem I’m thinking of reading at the event – it seems appropriate, in view of its local setting.  It was written for the Holmfirth Arts Festival a few years ago, about the night when Bilberry Reservoir (just above Digley, shown in the picture) burst its dam, causing a catastrophic flood in the town.

 

The Ballad of Bilberry Reservoir 

Stranger, as you walk my shore

and think my home a tranquil place,

look closer: do you see a frown

within the ripples of my face?

 

These were not always quiet waters.

When first the moor gave birth to me

this valley echoed with my laughter,

unfettered, I ran wild and free.

 

Men looked in envy and desired

to bend my labour to their wills.

They made an earthen dam to bind me,

pipes to bleed me for their mills.

 

But I was strong, and with a storm

conspired to burst my prison walls

and through the breach my righteous anger

surged in furious waterfalls.

 

That happy night! How I did dance

among the streets and houses, free

to vent my power and forge anew

my ancient pathway to the sea.

 

That time is gone: men learned to fear

and built for me a stronger cage

in which I languish, left to brood

on memories of a better age.

 

What else to do but plot revenge

with my old friends, the wind and rain.

You who think me tamed, beware:

I sleep, but I shall wake again.

 

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