A FINE MADNESS by Barry Tebb
Any poets about or bored muses fancying a day out?
Rainy, windy, cold Leeds City Station
Half-way through its slow chaotic transformation
Contractors’ morning break, overalls, hard hats and harness
Flood McDonalds where I sip my tea and try to translate Valйry.
London has everything except my bardic inspiration
I’ve only to step off the coach in Leeds and it whistles
Its bravuras down every wind, rattles the cobbles in Kirkgate Market
Hovers in the drunken brogue of a Dubliner in the chippie
As we share our love of Joyce the Aire becomes the Liffey.
All my three muses have abandoned me. Daisy in Asia,
Brenda protesting outside the Royal Free, Barbara seeing clients at the C.A.B.
Past Saltaire’s Mill, the world’s eighth wonder,
The new electric train whisperglides on wet rails
Past Shipley’s fairy glen and other tourist trails
Past Kirkstall’s abandoned abbey and redundant forge
To Grandma Wild’s in Keighley where I sit and gorge.
I’ve travelled on the Haworth bus so often
The driver chats as if I were a local
But when the rainbow’s lightning flash
Illumines all the valleys there’s a hush
And every pensioner's rheumy eye is rooted
On the gleaming horizon as its mooted
The Bronte’s spirits make the thunder crack
Three cloaked figures converging round the Oakworth track.
Haworth in a storm is a storm indeed
The lashing and the crashing makes the gravestones bleed
The mashing and the bashing makes the light recede
And on the moor top I lose my way and find it
Half a dozen times slipping in the mud and heather
Heather than can stand the thrust of any weather.
Just as suddenly as it had come the storm abated
Extremes demand those verbs so antiquated
Archaic and abhorred and second-rated
Yet still they stand like moorland rocks in mist
And wait as I do till the storm has passed
Buy postcards at the parsonage museum shop
Sit half an hour in the tea room drying off
And pen a word or two to my three muses
Who after all presented their excuses
But nonetheless the three all have their uses.