Derwentwater – Celebrated in Poetry and Photographs
January 20, 2017
Derwentwater is the crowning glory of the Lake District town of Keswick.
3 miles long, a mile wide and bordered by fells and woodland, it’s a place of stunning natural beauty from any angle. At the south end, it is surrounded by the impressive Borrowdale Valley.
It also holds literary significance, inspiring writers such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, who spent her summer holidays at both the Lingholme and Fawe Park estates on the north side of Derwentwater.
I think London poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 – 1838) captures the picturesque beauty of the lake in her poem, Derwent Water, perfectly. Or, as she puts it, ‘that fairy scene’:
Derwent Water by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
I knew her—though she used to make
Her dwelling by that lonely lake.
A little while she came to show
How lovely distant flowers can go.
The influence of that fairy scene
Made beautiful her face and mien.
I have seen faces far more fair,
But none that had such meaning there.
For to her downcast eyes were given
The azure of an April heaven;
The softening of those sunny hours,
By passing shadows, and by showers.
O’er her cheek the wandering red,
By the first wild rose was shed.
Evanescent, pure, and clear,
Just the warm heart’s atmosphere.
Like the sweet and inner world,
In that early rosebud furled.
All whose rich revealings glow
Round the lovelier world below.
Light her step was, and her voice
Said unto the air, rejoice;
And her light laugh’s silvery breaking
Sounded like the lark’s first waking.
Return to that fair lake, return,
On whose green heathlands grows the fern;
And mountain heights of dark gray stone,
Are bright with lichens overgrown.
Thou art too fay-like and too fair
For our more common clouded air.
Beauty such as thine belongs
To a world of dreams and songs;
Let thy image with us dwell,
Lending music to farewell.
The photographs in this post were taken by Sarah Wilkinson. Sarah lives in Keswick and photography is her hobby; her Instagram page has some of the most beautiful and clever pictures of the Lake District I have ever seen, check it out! https://www.instagram.com/_sarahwilks
Borderlines 2016 – Cumbria’s Festival for Book Lovers
September 18, 2016
Great writers seem to be drawn to Cumbria!
Carlisle hosts its third Borderlines book festival during 7-9 October, 2016, and it returns bigger than ever. Not only are there top names – such as legendary crime writer Val McDermid, screen-writing stalwart Jimmy McGovern, expert linguist David Crystal and his son Ben, and fiction favourite Alexander McCall Smith – there are also some great local names such as award-winning writer Sarah Hall, and Hunter Davies – one of the country’s top biographers.
As well as the return of the popular writer’s workshops, 2016 will feature live music in the form of the fantastically original Bookshop Band!
There’s something for everyone in this lineup, pop over to www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk to see the full programme and to book tickets.
Personal recommendation? Joanna Cannon on Saturday 8th October, who’s debut The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a superb read.
See you there!
Theatre by the Lake’s ‘Elektra’ – A High-Action Revenge Tale
June 27, 2016
According to the LA Post, Electra of Sophocles is unique among the tradition of Greek tragedies for its emphasis on action. From the opening, a plot is put into place by Orestes in order to dismantle the corrupt reign of his mother Clytemnestra, the woman responsible for murdering Agamemnon – the king and Orestes father.
Director Mary Papadima certainly summons the action in The Theatre by the Lake’s adaption of Elektra, emphasizing the drama through bold physical movement. Joanna Simpkins’s Elektra tears onto the stage in a energetically executed dance. Consumed by grief for her father and seeking revenge, the rapid power in her movements tell us she means business. Simpkins’ performance is captivating; obsessive but never neurotic, there is a real power in her delivery and she remains incredibly focused. Elizabeth Marsh’s Queen Klytaimestra, nemesis to Elektra, is played with wicked vigor; a villain consumed by power, yet one that offers a glimpse of conflicting vulnerability on the news of her son’s ‘death’. Helen Macfarlane (Chrysothemis) and Alex Phelps (Orestes) put in solid, spirited performances that work brilliantly during their exchanges with Simpkins. The chorus are enchanting, amplifying the drama at key points through dialogue and physical movement.
This adaption of a well-known myth (translated by Anne Carson) feels modern without straying too far from the foundations of the Greek tragedy. The contemporary sound and movement serve to emphasize the ‘tragic’ elements, accentuating the myriad of emotions such as grief, obsession and love.
Elektra is showing at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick until 2nd November. Tickets available at www.theatrebythelake.com
Catbells – Poem of the Month by Dave Cryer
December 1, 2015
Owing to its modest height, easy accessibility and spectacular views of Derwentwater, Catbells is one of the most popular fells in the Lakes for walkers. There is some doubt surrounding the origin of its unusual name, but one theory is that it comes from a distortion of “Cat Bields”, meaning shelter of the wild cat.
This month’s guest poem is by Dave Cryer (@cavedryer), a writer from Keswick who runs drama and literary workshops. He also pens clever haikus online – covering anything from the fells, to Black Friday, to tomato soup!
By Dave Cryer
Across that strip of water she reclines,
Her beauty clear and close, her swirls and swerves.
You dwell by Derwentwater’s liquid lines
And yearn to rise upon her crested curves.
It’s sure and simple, step aboard the launch
Or skirt round Portinscale and through the woods
And soon you’ll be below her handfill haunch
And pausing to survey her goodly goods.
Now climb, clandestine, wrapped in full sweet smile
And press upon the powdered peak – just stop –
The softness of the spine, the next half mile –
Now smooth across, then take her towered top.
Sublime. You’re there. She’s with you. Here to tell
Of soft-blown synergy of folk and fell.
A Poetic Landscape – Wainwrights in Verse by John Phoenix Hutchinson
October 26, 2015
Alfred Wainwright’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down. Nearly 25 years after his death, his guide books continue to sell in vast quantities as walkers follow in his footsteps to become ‘Wainwright baggers.’
Seen as we’ve got a fairly decent reputation for producing poetry in the Lakes, what better way to epitomise these celebrated hills than with a collection of poems?
John Phoenix Hutchinson, a poet and fell walker from the Lake District, has released a collection of poetry called Wainwrights in Verse covering all 214 Wainwright fells. It is described as a ‘poetical guide to the Lake District Fells.’ Below are two poems for your enjoyment: ‘Rannerdale Knotts’ and ‘Red Pike’. The accompanying photos are by talented Cumbrian photographer Craig Hyde at Pure Photos; you can see more of his work on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/purephotos. Craig also takes some stunning photos of wildlife, check them out!
Wainwrights in Verse (£8.99) is available from www.bookscumbria.com and from the Carlisle and Keswick branches of Bookends.
Region: North West Height: 1,165 ft Grid Ref: NY167182
The springtime hue is a stunning sea of blue,
Best visited when the dawning sunshine hits the dew.
Green the oasis where the medieval blood once flowed,
Killing Norman invaders with victory bestowed,
Springing surprise, ambush! Revenge begot,
Here on short sweet mountain, Rannerdale Knotts.
Red Pike (Buttermere)
Region: West Height: 2,477 ft Grid Ref: NY160154
A Most popular Buttermere valley hike,
The route of rock up buttressed pike,
Here the stone is rich bloody red,
As the syenite runs through the soil bed.
The view’s a classic with many lakes seen,
And the mountain itself in Adam’s Ale teems,
For water here is the star attraction,
Varying in type with pleasant reactions.
The cascading course flows of Sour Milk Gill,
To the beautiful falls of Scale Force thrill,
And not forgetting the hidden volcano yarn,
In the deep dark depths of Bleaberry Tarn.