search
Barnsley
Batley
Bedale
Beverley
Bingley
Bradford
Bridlington
Brighouse
Castleford
Catterick Garrison
Cleckheaton
Cottingham
Darlington
Dewsbury
Doncaster
Driffield
Elland
Filey
Goole
Guisborough
Halifax
Harrogate
Hawes
Hebden Bridge
Heckmondwike
Hessle
Holmfirth
Huddersfield
Hull
Ilkley
Keighley
Knaresborough
Knottingley
Leeds
Leyburn
Liversedge
Malton
Mexborough
Middlesborough
Mirfield
Morley
Normanton
Northallerton
Ossett
Otley
Pickering
Pontetfract
Pudsey
Redcar
Richmond
Ripon
Rotherham
Saltburn-by-the-Sea
Scarborough
Selby
Settle
Sheffield
Shipley
Skipton
Sowerby Bridge
Stockton-on-Tees
Tadcaster
Thirsk
Todmorden
Wakefield
Wetherby
Whitby
Yarm
York
Poem Of The Week: ‘Ruin’ By Richard Martin
Steve Whitaker, Literary Correspondent
Murrisk Abbey and Croagh Patrick
That revenants ‘persist’ in holy places may have more bearing on perceiver imagination than ghostly appearance, but, as Larkin found, some deep, irrational compulsion draws us to consecrated ground.

Ruin

A narrow spit of rocky land,
thorn bushes, a brief pebbly beach,
a diminutive ruin –

a barrel roof broken-backed as an old sofa,
a blind arrow-slit of a window,
one caved in corner trailing leaves;

a chapel, oratory, or such,
abandoned, they say, centuries ago,
a refuge now for errant goats.

Whether the spirit of the saint, that
locally revered holy man, still resides here
depends on your faith,

the theology of sanctity, or simply
on his own inspired persistence.



Reading Richard Martin’s languid, thoughtful poem, I was reminded of the fifteenth century abbey of Murrisk in the far, to some degree other-worldly, west of Ireland. Nestled at the foot of the country’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, the abbey carries the stolid weight of stone-worn time in its annals. Overlooking the odd calm of Clew Bay and its assemblage of spits and islands, the graveyard harbours, if not restive spirits, then certainly the suggestion of presence. Nor could I adequately explain the nocturnal door-handle turning and incessant groaning of floorboards in our cottage which more or less abutted the cemetery. Strange place, thick with history and the tragic memory of the many who fetched up along this coast during the Famine, and are commemorated by the ‘Coffin Boat’, a sculpture of despair whose skeletal framework is its own fate.

Also by Steve Whitaker...
Poem Of The Week: ‘The Shadow Of Us’ By Rowan Righelato
You And Me In Paradise: Trouble - Grist Anthology Of Protest Short Stories
Review: Everything I See I Swallow at Square Chapel
End of an Era: The Buses and Trains of West Yorkshire
Poem Of The Week: ‘Epitaph On A Tyrant’ By W. H. Auden
Martin’s images of decay punctuate vision like a randomly surveying eye. Beautifully drawn in a series of ambling tercets, they bespeak abandonment no less than the abbey at Murrisk. This ‘refuge now for errant goats’, in fact, shares the deliberately nonchalant tone of Larkin’s ‘Churchgoing’. And like Larkin, Martin is preparing the ground before a final hint of ambiguity - an insouciant distancing of any sense of religious affiliation wrapped in a light-hearted paradox of agnostic uncertainty.

Poem Of The Week: ‘Ruin’ By Richard Martin, 6th September 2019, 22:27 PM