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August 2017

At the Halifax Piece Hall at its grand re-opening on Yorkshire Day 2017, Geneviève Walsh read a poem called Contradictions about a contradiction she experienced between something she saw and what she heard. I realised that I had seen a very similar contradiction a few months earlier and so I wrote this poem about it.

I've borrowed and slightly modified a line from a poem by Branwell Brontë ("Amid the world's wide din around"), and also a line from Borodin's Polovtsian Dances ("Borne on wings of gentle breezes") which I sang in the school choir at the age of 12 so it's appropriate for the childhood motif in this poem.

Read at the Puzzle Poets 7 August 2017

On a lovely April morning, on a mound
That's halfway up the path to higher ground
(Both literally and metaphorically),
The Calder Valley stretched in front of me.

The hum of traffic on the valley floor
Filtered through the hillside's open door
And brought a rush, a wave of memories past
Of childhood hillsides, growing up too fast
To savour what in time would only be
A dim and distant fading memory.

The sky was wide, the air was thick with Spring
Perfumes, and trills and cadences that ring
Around the hills, of children's laughter borne
On wings of gentle breezes, not forlorn
Nor tentative nor vague but full of hope
Where innocence shone on that grassy slope.

A sonorous male voice (solo, no choir)
Resounded like bells from a phantom spire,
And, as I sat aghast astride the fence,
Twisted the knife into the innocence.
Amid the world's wide hushed and muted din
I heard him cry "Get in!.....GET THE FUCK IN!"