In the Yorkshire Dales
As one who has a passion for walking in the English countryside, I find much that I relate to in this thought-provoking poem by the American poet, Joseph Stroud. I like the way the poem moves through mundane travel arrangements until the walker finds a place that feels like "a beginning," a place from which he will begin to "walk the freshness" back into his life. And then there is a beautiful description of another walker seen in the distance, a solitary figure who is "walking, making his way, working his life, step by step, into grace."
By Joseph Stroud
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world
Take a plane to London.
From King's Cross take the direct train to York.
Rent a car and drive across the vale to Ripon,
then into the dales toward the valley of the Nidd,
a narrow road with high stone walls on each side,
and soon you'll be on the moors. There's a pub,
The Drovers, where it's warm inside, a tiny room,
you can stand at the counter and drink a pint of Old Peculiar.
For a moment everything will be all right. You're back
at a beginning. Soon you'll walk into Yorkshire country,
into dells, farms, into blackberry and cloud country.
You'll walk for hours. You'll walk the freshness
back into your life. This is true. You can do this.
Even now, sitting at your desk, worrying, troubled,
you can gaze across Middlesmoor to Ramsgill,
the copses, the abbeys of slanting light, the fells,
you can look down on that figure walking toward Scar House,
cheeks flushed, curlews rising in front of him, walking,
making his way, working his life, step by step, into grace.
On Moors Between Nine Standards Rigg and Whitsundale
Notes: Both photos taken on my walk of Wainright's Coast to Coast Path in 2010; Joseph Stroud poem, "Directions," from Below Cold Mountain (Copper Canyon Press, 1998).