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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree

Stories and Visions

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Kinder Scout unkind

(Kinder Scout is a major English hill, pronounced as in ‘kin’ rather than as in ‘kind’.)
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We are near to the edge that awaits us above,
and the hawk is beside us in space,
out on Black Ashop Moor, without hat, coat or glove,
with a warm friendly sun on our face.
But the hill is a trap, and the river’s a trap,
and the gentle illusion of pleasure
is no more than the lie of a filthy old hill
that desires to rot bones beyond measure.

For at two thousand feet, night falls quickly and grim,
as the merry old sun falls behind
this enormous escarpment that forms the hill’s rim,
where the end of the world is defined.
We must stumble down slopes,
through the bracken to crash,
up the cloughs that are straight as a street,
till we sweat, surge, and curse out of Featherbed Moss,
with wild strawberries under our feet.

As we come to the road that we’d sighted afar,
we can only just see where we’re going;
and already the dark shows the glint of a star,
over Bleaklow’s grim hills, beyond knowing.
Then you ask how I knew there’s no time for the top,
now the strength that remains us is dregs;
and I say, it is written in injuries old,
for the hills tell their tales to my legs.

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