Two Ballads, North


Ruined Mills of Leek

We drove by the ruined mills of Leek 
In the dead time of the year
When the land had become like a faded song 
We could no longer hear.  

Down where the mouldering sandstone world
Of the Potteries blends with the weeds,
Where the warehouses echo with wandering winds
And the greywater gathers in beads, 

Where the reservoirs flow to the city of stars
And the sick are annulled in the night,
I was someone who failed like a light going out
In a dream on the edge of sight,

Where the powerful cleave to their juggernaut arks
And the cities are sunken and bare,
I was someone who broke like a tumbling tower
On the edge of a kingdom of air. 

We drove by the ruined mills of Leek
In the last days of the year
When the land had become like a faded song
We could no longer hear. 


Chillingham Cattle

Underneath the dancing stars
They walked with pale grace,
In the time before the world began
To a beat without pace. 

From the North Sea to the foaming Clyde 
They roamed through waves of trees,
The sun wept on their ancient hide,
The moon brokered their peace. 

They lived and died a sacred herd, 
They lived and grew as one, 
The world beyond the dry stone walls 
Grew fainter than the sun. 

Later when the castled knights 
Enclosed our common ground 
They huddled in the heavy oaks, 
Survived without sound. 

Now in the light of the morning 
They run from human hands, 
The castled Duke is still the gaoler 
Of these ancient lands. 

Underneath the dancing stars 
They wait with pale grace 
For the waves to wash the world again, 
For the untamed human face.