We had a lovely long walk last weekend, taking in Blackstone Edge which sits right on the border of West Yorkshire & Greater Manchester (Lancashire really!!).
As we walked along one of the bridleway tracks this striking outcrop of gritstone rock came into view.
Lovely in its own right, but it had a little extra secret to unveil as we got closer.
Expertly chiselled into its surface was a poem entitled RAIN.
We suspected it might have been written by Simon Armitage when we saw the SA, but weren’t sure. Having since done a bit of research, we now know that it’s one in a series of elemental works by him entitled The Stanza Stones dotted around the Pennines. They were commissioned by Ilkley Literature Festival. Other titles include Snow, Mist, Dew, Puddle and Beck.
Ironically, it was a glorious sunny day but the Pennines are certainly no strangers to the watery stuff. It’s a fundamental force in shaping this landscape.
It’s a beautiful poem and we found it very life affirming – and strangely wished that we were standing in the rain reading it – the rock’s surface glistening and droplets running down our faces. Justin read it out loud and we recorded it on a mobile phone – so we’d be sure to have the words when we got home. We needn’t have worried as there’s a lovely book available called The Stanza Stones published by Enitharmon. Justin is a bit embarrassed, but his open air reading has been embedded at the bottom of this post – his Northern accent suits it! All that’s missing is the pitter-patter of rain in the background.
We’re now very keen to read the book and visit the other works in this series.
Be glad of these freshwater tears,
Each pearled droplet some salty old sea-bullet
Air-lifted out of the waves, then laundered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.
And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,
To take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.
Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.
© Simon Armitage 2010
Stanza Stones is available from Amazon.
If you fancy giving the walk(s) a go you can download the poetry trail guide from the Ilkley Literature Festival website.