Let’s start at the very beginning, well not quite, but at the beginning of this recent project. I’d applied for a job as Manager of Wakefield Tourism, I’ve never heard back, not even a rejection, so I assume that my non-conventional lifestyle and even more unconventional job application scared them off. But, before that, Dad, pedant, hoarder and proud Yorkshire man, in his wish to be helpful, had disappeared into the loft and found, in an old brown leather suitcase, a collection of books about Dewsbury, Ossett, Horbury & Wakefield, my immediate surroundings, my back yard if you will, place of my birth, education and stepping stone to a wider world.
Hidden within this collection was an anthology of poetry written by our gardener. I remember at the time, some 35 years ago, scoffing at the thought that our gardener wrote poetry, even more so when I discovered that he wrote most of it in dialect; naïve, insolent, borderline brat that I was. However, 35 years later, now a hopeful scribe, and recent returnee, I was intrigued enough to read this collection, given as a signed copy to my parents. Honestly speaking, it’s not bad, not bad at all. But more than the quality of the poetry, it’s the record both of life back in the day, that I only vaguely remember and an insight into this man, our gardener, the things he noticed, what inspired him, the details he picked up on, in short the world as he saw it. Our gardener who rarely left the village but was clearly connected to nature, the people and the character of Yorkshire.
I’ve decided I can’t ignore his poetry in my discovery of Yorkshire, and I will be using the poems as I go, as inspiration for topics to write about and the insights of a man who lived pre smart phones and who saw, appreciated and lived through the microcosm of local nature and village life.
Thank you, Fred Hirst. I owe you.
My Yorkshire by Fred Hirst.
A land of rolling hills and heather,
Rocky crags fashioned by weather,
Streams in the Dales, crystal clear,
Villages and rural beauty ever near.
Towering cliffs and beautiful golden sands,
Serene parks where one listens to the bands.
Ruined castles and abbeys you will find, near
Ugly slag heaps where coal has been mined.
Boundless areas where children laugh and play,
Quiet cathedrals where people worship and pray.
Field after field of crops, now yellow and gold,
Big woollen mills, some derelict, empty, cold.
City centres, with precincts and flowers in bloom,
Back streets, dark, dowdy and full of gloom.
Mighty rivers that end in a labyrinth of docks.
Canals cut into different sections, by locks.
Mansions in estates where the rich are born,
Where visitors have tea, sitting on the lawn.
Yorkshire is my homeland and I hold it very dear,
The Yorkshire dialect is something special to hear.