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.

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Recordings

Helen Farish

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1Look at These

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2Auto Reply

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3Feathered Coyote

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4Under the Bridge

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5Mount Mirtagh and Back

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6In the Church of St. Joseph Prague

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7Treasures

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8Surgery

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9The Accident

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10Mesoplodon Pacificus

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11Blindfold

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12The Old King's Garden

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13The Lighthouse of Nauset

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14Picnic Spots

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15Brathay

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16Slater Bridge

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17Custodian

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18Allington Cross

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19The Lorton Valley

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20To Whiteside

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21Odyssey

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22Plum Island

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23Kit

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24Rue des Lions

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25What Held Us There

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26Programme

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27Coffin Path Poem

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2824th June 1955

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29Newly Born Twins

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30Recording

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31China Dogs

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32July

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33The White Gate

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34Manicure

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35Airing

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36My Father's Dressing Gown

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37‘Grant Us Time to Read and Ponder'

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38Outside the Baker's

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39Resurrection

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40Dad's Barn

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41Posting

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42Appellation

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Books by Helen Farish