Here, ringed by Rivers Derwent, Humber, Ouse,
Where Sykes of Sledmere tamed the rolling Wold
And Hockney’s brush paints rapeseed fields in gold
Are places rich in lore that fires the Muse.
In Welton, Warter, Wetwang, Wawne and Thwing
Are sights that make you hear the angels sing
And where the signpost points to ‘Land of Nod’
You feel you can detect the hand of God.
Rising like hymns from Beverley Minster’s choir
Skyward the towers of Hedon and Howden climb
And Dalton’s slender steeple points still higher
With peerless Patrington defying time
And now a lanky bardic figure’s seen
Bespectacled, lugubrious of mien,
Long-coated, earnest, cycle-clipped and bald
Larkin’ round churches, thirsting for what’s old,
Relishing fusty air, people long gone,
Turning to verse worn effigies in stone
Rhyming old gravestones, lecterns, pews, incense,
Agnostic awe, facetious reverence.
Long before him, from Winestead Marvell came –
John Milton’s friend and Kingston’s pride and joy –
With ‘carpe diems’ wooed his girlfriend coy*
Then, in a garden’s peace remote from fame,
Sang of the boundless whole of all that’s made
Pared by the mind of man to a green shade.
Kingston is where his statue proudly stands
* Andrew Marvell: To His Coy Mistress and Thoughts in a Garden
Kingston-on-Hull! A name of royal sound,
City of regal pride and ornament
Of towers and domes, museums, galleries
Of theatres, halls, of squares and boulevards
Of business titans, Ferens, Reckitt, Rank,
Of ‘wonderful Amy’ Johnson flying high
Seems now a place of wistful memory
Its River Hull a sluggish silent flood
Mourning lost wharves and barges, warehouses,
Its Humber-side where busy docks once throbbed
With industry and shouts of trawlermen
Now fronts an empty Humber wide and still;
Where three great docks once marked the former line
Of Kingston’s moats and walls today are found
A yacht marina and a shopping mall
And in Queen’s garden gazing down its lawns
An effigy of Hull’s most famous son
Whose opium-fuelled words and energies
Severed the chains of black humanity.
(In Wilberfoss, his family’s former seat,
Willows still line its ancient stream, the Foss)
Out on the coast there’s elemental war:
Wind-driven waves sweep Filey’s sandy shore.
Sheer cliffs resound to Bempton’s screaming gulls
And wave-lashed rock with organ thunder swells
In Flamborough’s chalk-hewn mist-enshrouded caves.
Spray drenches all the crowds in Brid’s arcades
As Hornsea weeps for villages galore
Shattered and washed down Ocean’s greedy maw.
Ghosts tread the shore of Holderness forlorn
And walk the fragile tail of lonely Spurn.
To learn the muted magic of the Wolds
By Huggate, Fridaythorpe or Thixendale,
Just stroll down secret valleys smooth and green
Streamless and virgin, hidden from noisy roads,
Rounded in profile, cropped by tireless sheep,
Past earthworks, tumuli and ancient dykes
And contemplate old Wharram’s poignant site
Of buried mediaeval mysteries –
Or Rudston’s prehistoric monolith
Looming above the springs of Gypsey Race.
For travellers seeking Beverley from York
A varied music haunts the passing scene
Along the route, changing from stage to stage.
At first a constant pianissimo
Befits the level contours of the Vale.
The drive past Wilberfoss past Pocklington
Gives back a barely audible low note
That matches all the flatness of the ground.
But soon a merry piccolo strikes up
As Market Weighton’s passed. A gentle slope
Leads to the heady summit of the wolds
On every side the landscape stretches wide,
And now the woodwind swell the tuneful noise
As endless views enchant the watchful eye
And soon the strings enrich the glorious sound
That greets the charming sight of village pond
At Bishop Burton smiling in the sun.
From then it’s all crescendo to the point
Where Beverley’s ancient common land begins.
And driving down the Westwood past the cows
A wondrous prospect quickly comes in view –
The Borough’s welcome to all travellers –
St Mary’s tower, the Minster’s western front.
The orchestra’s brass section opens up
It’s ‘tutti‘ all the way, fortissimo’s
The order of the day, the trumpet sounds;
The Riding’s plush red carpet”s at your feet.