Hear Simon live introducing and reading the poem.
By Middlesmoor I found a staff, a sturdy stick
That, shed from barren beeches, bid me bend to pick
It from the land,
To help me stand,
And more: to walk the walk I’d planned
And finish, though with aching thighs, with smiles,
Novembery Nidderdale’s inspiring miles.
So stout with staff, I found a pace, a quicker pace
Cross slippery rocks. But watery whispers asked: “Why race
Me to the sea?
For you are free
To linger or just to stop and be.
I have a flow, and with it I must go.
Just go with yours, my dale to better know.”
And as I slowed, so slowed the dale, the Nidd, the scudding sky,
And only then saw I the heron, hare and heard the cry
From distant rocks
O f Mr Fox.
And even though he stalks
Some hapless prey, he still has time to meet my gaze
Across a dripping field on this, his hungriest of days.
And only then I saw the timid trout, who, caressed
By currents, like a breeze-blown hawk held motionless
Against the flow.
If I should throw
A playful pebble, then I know
He’ll dart into the shallow safety of the reeds.
Yes, I have slowed, but how my heart now speeds.
And as the tearoom talk of Pateley Bridge drew near,
I thought to cast the stick; just let it go, with conscience clear.
But wait! Don’t throw!
Best lay it by the lane, and so
It may another weary walker lure
To march it back to Middlesmoor.