Imagine the Old North

Imagine the Old North. What can it be? Can you see it in this land, from your green hill across the marsh how the ordinary people saw it?

Can you see ravens in trees amongst the crows? Was it common enough for magpies?

Can you imagine the rumours of embittered warlords and honey-tongued bards who sung their praises? Can you taste weak beer or braggot? Do you feast on dog or wild boar?

Can you imagine living in a world where the animals speak? How will you learn their tongues? Will they lead you into their expanses?

Your books are filled with stories. Can you imagine the ones who got away? How their hearts beat on river-banks and they were pierced by spears as carrion birds circled? How the sleek otter swept into the depths and carried their death-cries to his young? Can you imagine what the ravens whispered in their thatched nest?

Can you imagine the task of bringing peace to the battle-dead?

Where all the darkness of history wanders and I hold the spirits of Annwn back… can you imagine?

What can our poetry be? A sound, a scream, a panorama of the Old North in a beam of light?

River Ribble from the Ribble Way, east of Ribchester Bridge
*Questions posed by Gwyn ap Nudd.
**Photograph of the river Ribble from the Ribble Way east of Ribchester Bridge.

7 thoughts on “Imagine the Old North

  1. Lee says:

    ” Do you feast on dog or wild boar?”

    Now this question is the most fascinating one for me right now 🙂

    That said, all of those others needs answers and I think there is a lifetime to be spent in doing so. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Brian Taylor says:

    I like the photo. Very evocative. I’m less sure about the questions though, probably because I’m more tuned into recent ancestors, including those who knew the horrors of the second world war (some fifty million humans died as the recently demoted planet/oid ‘Pluto’, ruler of the underworld, was emerging over the ascendent/surface of his/her discovery chart, but that’s another, not entirely unconnected, story …. ).

    Last time I saw a raven in the same tree as crows they weren’t getting on too well. If I remember rightly, the latter soon had to leave!

    • lornasmithers says:

      Since I’ve lived here, I haven’t seen any ravens in Penwortham although they used to come to the riding school I worked at. There are lots of crows (hence Crow Wood, which was to opposite side of St Mary’s Church to Penwortham Wood on Castle Hill) and magpies are always about. Although this doesn’t mean ravens haven’t made appearances or lived here in the past.

      Admittedly I never spoke to my grandparents about the second war, although my parents have passed on their stories. I spent some time researching the first world war at the Lancashire Archives last year and one of the things I came across was a first hand account in someone’s diary of the Christmas truce, as well as other, sadder things. Whenever I pass the war memorial in Penwortham, the people who died are remembered. I’m not completely untuned to the effects of recent wars.

      But, for now, it’s necessary to me to answer this particular calling.

      • Brian Taylor says:

        I wasn’t being judgemental there Lorna. Just observing a more or less inevitable generational difference. I find it hard to see back past the huge events that preceded my birth, and posed questions that I’m still grappling with. Hopefully Pluto/Gwynn can help with some answers.

  3. crychydd says:

    If we can’t imagine such things the depths of the world are lost to us and all we’ll see in the shallows will be our own reflections. It’s the embrace of otherness that makes us whole.

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