Dales Poetry Corner

The Yorkshire Dales inspires many a poet, if Swaledale or any of the other dales have inspired you to put pen to paper and you want to share your piece, please click here to email us.


29th February 2016 - Received an email today from a Mr George Caldwell of Leyburn who has kindly sent in his 'Always.....(in't' Dales)' poem -  enjoy! Thank you Mr Caldwell for the new addition to our page.


Always…(in`t` Dales)

Allus…stuffin` their faces…these fowk…

in`t` Dales `ere

Allus snackin`…on`t` tasty…fresh farm made foods…Wensleydale cheese `n` suppin`... Black Sheep…(like nectar)…`n` lots of gert…Yorkshire Dales brewed ale `n` beer

Allus fantastic…scenic views…“The Shawl” “Pen Hill” “Bolton Castle” an`awl ower…

providin`…bloomin` weather prevails…m`dear

Allus consult t`old soothsayer…(least one in each village)…

afooare goin` walkin` anywhere…far`er…or near

Allus mak` sure ye` see big hill ovver yonder fust…is`t gonna rain?…

vision ye not… `od on!... be chuckin it dahn sooiner …rattlin` pails…no fear!

Allus aht in open…Dales fowk…even `n` sodden rain…when…quite oft…

too cawd even for Artic Yeti…yet no one `ere…appears…cares

Allus `avin` fun…wi` food festivals…barrel rolls…duck races…

egg throwin`…farmers markets…feeasts`n`fairs

Allus showin` cattle…wi` auctions… race `osses  on`t` “Gallops”…

sheep shearing…`n` such like…affairs

Allus a maister on`t` mike…bawlin`…`n` shahtin`… reet loud…`n` posh like…

nice feller though…just…a bit snooty… wi` graces `n`…airs

Allus wi` gert plum `n` gob…nivver `stan` `im… missen…

talkin` sheep… geldin`s `n` mares

Allus love it `ere though… wi` honest… down to earth…thoughtful like…fowk…

who always… it seems…shares

Allus been good enough for… King Richard at Middleham Castle…as well…

in those long past… bygone day… years

Allus gert drinkin`…`n` toastin`…wi` friends… “Good Health”…in…

“Gods County”…Alwaysin`t` Dales…`n` everyone lifts cups `n` sups `n` “Cheers” !


THE PHANTOM POET Copyright © 2009 George Caldwell (T.P.P3)    


3rd March 2016 - A poem sent in to us today by Ruth Asch. 

Swaledale Impressions


Perhaps it is the attentiveness of stars              

in unmarred dark - a brilliant, silent throng -             

which makes voice echo through such open air...                  

Immersed in it: like first-taste from a well                

 - air that you drink slow for very freshness.


But in the cottage, lingers sediment:                               

pepp'ry coal, sweet woodsmoke, algid stone.            

Walls of rock warp, painted linen-cream,                       

an oaken-ribbed white ceiling nestles low.

Tapestried, the couch for reveries                       

and plush old armchairs welcome weary guests,                 

gathering them before - a fireplace;                            

the small, cold, empty cavern - ashen, dead.

But watch the skill of labour-roughened hands,                    

master that enigma of Man's birth:                         

flames that bud and sprout, totter and cheer

our glowing eyes, flickering to peaceful warmth

and fascination in their mutant forms,

destruction slow and glamour consumate.




Roosteral crowing filters through my dream:                      

red-gold trumpets blown by heralds green.                                                                      

I wake to smoky, lemon light of dawn               

and drift again; until a hail and bark,                     

the booted footfall of a man below.

Shepherd? his collie slinking eagerly

to conquest tactical of swaledale sheep:

the ebon faced, in ivory wool coats,                          

black-stockinged neatness, head-high poise            

- until approached - at which they trot away 

with just a touch too much alarm for elegance. 


Sit, knees to chin, within the two-foot wall                        

a velvet-cushioned fortress window-seat.

Peer down upon the gritstone village taupe -                                         

bright flowers in nooks, like button-holes on suits,

seem to dress its quiet for celebration.

The sky always feels washed here; is it rain

or unurbanised air just stays so clean?                                

Right now a flexing surge of dappled clouds    

rear on the horizon. Through the Dales 

rampant herds of them go roaming wild,              

parade across the sunlit plains of air -             

wind swerving gustily, and light with shadow            

flared and scrolled and mingled by their charge                   

as thoughts and feelings tangle here below                                                                                                      




Out then! to taste the breath of wind and farm:                       

meadow blossoms tinctured in the sun,                       

cow dung, grasses crisping into straw,

bluff mountain gasps and min'raled river spray;

to stride the flag path of the seven fields; 

peer into hungry barns, waiting their fill;                         

savour a rainbow subtly sprinkled through                   

the blooms and tassles of a fallow mede.

We hail the piebald cows who hang upon

backbones like rails, chewing soberly,                                                     

and raise large eyes, luxuriantly lashed,

inscrutable; but heavy ambling

towards us quickens subtly our pace

to border walls of interlocking stones                                                                    

held only by mutual experience.


We squeeze through stiles, pause atop to view                        

how green, gold chequers line the vale,

how the river-distance vanishes

and farmland to the crouching mountain yields.                            


On rising slopes: leafed, wind-torted trees,                                                                                             

stony crannies, moss and ragged grass -                      

glimmering trickles quietly babble down,                  

join to rills and hurdle over rocks;                                             

slide through strigose marsh into a beck                                    -

called on, clearly called past the broad farm gate,

the hoof-churned mud-carpet of drinking beasts;                             

under foot-width bridges covert way                                 

through hanging branches - leading those who know 

to secrets of a public meadow path.                                         

Pooling in basins where the children play;                   

down shallow shelves - glass curtains billowing                       

with ribbons of green weed; on, on

into the River; on into the Swale. 


The Swale: sleek and swift, peaty and pure; 

gold, black and brown as liquid tiger's-eye.     

In drought, rippling tranquility lies low,                

but drench it - then there springs a deeper rage                              

than ever you'd expect of one so small.                           

A traveller, murmuring dreamily,                         

tracing, lightly, whitely on dark skin                

arabesques; and ruffling its foam

at every stone to wrestle; or in bays                   

where quiet curves aside, turning the spume                        

as on a wheel, mounting to toruses                      

opaline and wan, crystal antique                    

spinning slowly: phantasmal prayer wheels,

playthings of a jilted fairy queen.        


Along the river's tireless wandering

time and again it leaps down a great drop

shouting as it falls and echoing 

around an earthern auditorium,

tree-canopied; to pause in a great calm.     

And there we swim beneath the rugged banks:

where liquid darkens in the hollowed depths    

to sombreness: a cauldron rarely lit 

with golden passing shadows of the sun.         

Stones like giants' cobbles smoothly crush 

tentative feet, numb and gilded now. 

Plunge! Satin-like water strokes the skin 

seductively; we float in a cold sky.                    

White light winks on waters' ringing dark:

like splint'rings fallen from the icy stars,                      

or flashes from an angered Kelpie's eyes.                          


We walk up-river, head toward the fells

and gorges where it took its birth and tone.                 

Full-skied, grim-boned, so glad and so austere            

rocks lightly clad in turf, delicacy

of blossoms which are strong in stalk and root.                

- Scarps break and retreat, into wide moors     

of purple meditation, heathered clouds

rough-prickled and sublime; just listening -                 

to silence, or the wuthering in the air,  

irenic ululations of a lark

risen to the heavens, which have dropped                  

their treasure in the mud - a round blue moon.


But down again, through dale we must return:

over the well-sprung, close-nibbled green;

past Philemon and Baucis in the flesh-

turned-bark, embracing in a homely bower,       

their faces still writ large upon the trunks:                     

warts and all, elderly and kind.       


The peace is softly pounded by our steps;                             

a solitary peewit's wailing cry;

rustling undergrowth; wandering humm; 

rare meaningful, reproachful, nasal bleat                                          

responding to ewe's juddering, mothering cry.

But watched by more than these - a peregrine

drifts overhead, and our ancestral home                             

is vibrant with keen senses we have shed.


We breathe and look, as though to fill again

our scar where natural peace has been torn out. 

A yellow diamond cuts the dull grey clouds

rolling in splashes over its long rays;

the grass is dark grey-green and bright chartreuse

the thistles violet pompoms, purple flames:

Colours of conflict - colours of storm:

one glimpse of river all silver and slate,

then heads duck under whipping sheets of rain.             


But soon the clouds have galloped on their way

beyond our vale and calm blithely returns.             

Dippers skim along the lilting stream                     

flirting with both their elements, and blend                            

into the adumbrated mystery

where water-loving trees close in and hang

roots tapering in the cool. Fish

phantom through the depths. 

                                                I want to stay -

be part of natural, unfamiliar things;                               

and yet the cottage, books and meals and friends

summon: too dear, and too habitual

to pass up now. A secret, fond, farewell;

an inner promise - and we turn and walk 

through pastures, to the village out-of-view,                 

where the stones are gathered to make homes.            

And whence the square grey tower must be -             

float bells that warmly scrape and curl the air -     

a gold-wood pestle round the bowl of hills.


© Ruth Asch 2015.



20th December 2012 - This poem 'Home Country' has been sent in to us. It was written by a lady in 1979, who is now 87 and whose first bank job was in Hawes in Wensleydale. She spent her childhood on a farm on the outskirts of Howden. Thanks Ruth for sending it in and thanks to your aunt for giving us permission to publish it on our website.

Here it is:


Home Country


I yearn for you my north country

  for your moors and fells,

     where lapwings rise into

       cerulean skies,

          and the curlews cry.

       Where the melting snows in Spring,

    charge the becks to sing, and stir

the mossy banks to green.


I remember how in May,

   your meadows flaunt their

     yellow scarves of buttercups

  and Hawthorn scents the

stone flanked way.


Return I must to you

   whether in life

      or as dust to blow away,

   on your moors and fells

from May to May.


Or to rest in the quiet churchyard

   where children lightly tread

      on ancestral graves, and where,

   Beech trees scatter nuts

in Autumn’s whirling winds.


How bitter sweet the nuts

   which once I gathered, when

I in innocence scampered there.


Alfreda MacKenzie –  written in Winter 1979



Here's one of my favourite poems from well-known Dales poet, Alan Hartley.

You can read his others by visiting his website at www.dalespoetry.co.uk.


'Meadowlands' by Alan Hartley

Keep safe the meadowlands; find them in May,
June or July when you may catch
Their fragrant breath on summer breeze, and see
Their fragile blooms wave in the restless green,
The Cowslip, Heartsease, Sorrel and Selfheal,
Speedwell and Meadowsweet, Clover and Vetch.

Keep safe the meadowlands, the ancient ground,
The founding soil of settled ways,
The land our ancestors reclaimed from bog
And bracken scrub for Fescue and wild Brome,
Ryegrass and Meadow Oat, Cocksfoot and Bent,
Vernal and Darnel and soft Yorkshire Fog.

Keep safe the meadowlands, a gift from heaven,
A bounty that is double given.
In summertime enjoy their beauty, free,
And hold that precious memory in store,
That you may gladden dull, cold, winter days
Walking the sunlit meadowlands once more.

Keep safe the meadowlands, the quiet calm;Treasure their humble flowerings
And guard their innocent, unworldly ways,
For all they ask is rain on a poor soil
And time to set their seed before
The reaper takes his yearly toll.

Keep safe the meadowlands, if they should go,
Our children's children may not ever know
To care about
The loss.


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