Poem introduction

I was born not far from the Lake District, and a year's residency at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere gave me a very welcome opportunity to return. During my time there, I used Ordinance Survey maps a great deal on my walks. And this poem, named after the river Brathay, I think of as a love song to Ordinance Survey maps.

Brathay

Brathay

I love to see these symbols on the map -
the cross, the less-than-4-metres-wide road,
the pub (named even). And I love
to see us as symbols and everything
we saw: the two men
chess-playing at Skelwith Fold
in back-porch sunshine, mark it
with T for tranquility. Put a P
in the graveyard for picnic (teabread,
coffee). An A just there on the verge
for sapling (ash) - how much growth
that summer? And the bend in the road
a double S for smiles (the greengold
light, the veneer of wood-water,
the tilt). And a capital J for summer
(joy), and a D for don't
(let this end), and a G and T left behind
at the pub (empty), and a capital U
for God saying I and the entire
universe wish this walk well.
By the Brathay and the underwater
bubbles that began us, an M
for completion by moonlight.
And all over, write, in full:
The Dazzle of this World.


From Intimates (Jonathan Cape, 2005), © Helen Farish 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Helen Farish Reading from her Poems

1Look at These

2Auto Reply

3Feathered Coyote

4Under the Bridge

5Mount Mirtagh and Back

6In the Church of St. Joseph Prague

7Treasures

8Surgery

9The Accident

10Mesoplodon Pacificus

11Blindfold

12The Old King's Garden

13The Lighthouse of Nauset

14Picnic Spots

15Brathay

16Slater Bridge

17Custodian

18Allington Cross

19The Lorton Valley

20To Whiteside

21Odyssey

22Plum Island

23Kit

24Rue des Lions

25What Held Us There

26Programme

27Coffin Path Poem

2824th June 1955

29Newly Born Twins

30Recording

31China Dogs

32July

33The White Gate

34Manicure

35Airing

36My Father's Dressing Gown

37‘Grant Us Time to Read and Ponder'

38Outside the Baker's

39Resurrection

40Dad's Barn

41Posting

42Appellation

Books & cds by Helen Farish