Monday, 8 October 2012

National Poetry Day 2012


With so much going on at Identity HQ, it slipped out mind that Thursday 4th October marked National Poetry Day. So to celebrate (although belatedly) we are going to have a look at some poetry about Inverclyde and the surrounding area. 

The Identity project is all about people passing through Greenock, some staying with their traditions and stories, others moving on elsewhere. Someone who passed through Greenock on his "Highland Tour" was the Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, in his short stay, here is what he had to say about the town:
Greenock


We have not passed into a doleful City,
We who were led to-day down a grim dell,
By some too boldly named “the Jaws of Hell”
Where be the wretched ones, the sights for pity?
These crowded streets resound no plaintive ditty
As from the hive where bees in summer dwell,
Sorrow seems here excluded; and that knell,
It neither damps the gay, nor checks the witty.
Alas! too busy Rival of old Tyre,
Whose merchants Princes were, whose decks were thrones; 



Soon may the punctual sea in vain respire
To serve thy need, in union with that Clyde
Whose nursling current brawls o’er mossy stones,
The poor, the lonely, herdsman’s joy and pride.


Another poet who wrote about Greenock was W. D. Cocker. In the following poem he manages to pain a VERY accurate image of Greenock.

The Greenock Man

“ Saft a wee, ” says Erchie.
“ Saft a wee! ” says I;
“ I’m draiglet an’ I’m drookit,
An’ ma sark’s no dry.
It’s rainin’ like a skailin’ bine,
It’s stottin’ frae the street,
The sheuch is rinnin’ ower in spate,
It’s weet, gey weet.
I hae some imagination
But I’m fairly bate to say
What fearsome flude you folk would ca’
A richt wat day.”


Taking a wee trip down the coast we come across John Joy Bell, who writes about Gourock:

Gourock Lights

Lookin' out across the water when 'tis dark as dark can be,
When there's not a whiff o' wind to break the stillness o' the sea,
When the air is clear an' frosty— 'tis the cheerfulest o' sights
To behold the scores an' hundreds o' the twinklin' Gourock lights!

'Tis a long, long string o' di'monds, needin' nought to make 'em shine,
But ye never seen a duchess wearin' di'monds half so fine !
'Tis as if the ch'icest stars o' heav'n had dropped to deck the shore—
Oh, I've counted 'em, an' counted 'em, an' still was plenty more.

If I was a simple stranger, sure I'd say the sparklin' string
Was some rare illumination for the crownin' o' a king.
But whene'er I spies the Gourock lights a-twinklin' fast an' free,
Why, I never thinks but what the lights is twinklin' there for me!

I meets a dismal chap one night. He groans an' says, "Alas !
Tis sad to think them twinklin' lights is made o' stinkin' gas."
Says I— "Ye topsy-turvy soul, why don't ye sing o' nights
Because the stinkin' gas does make them twinklin' Gourock lights?" 


We hope you enjoyed this brief journey through the history of Inverclyde through poetry. Stay tuned later on the week for more. 

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