The first time I ever went to Whitby Folk Week, in 2003, the very first artist I ever heard perform was Gordon Tyrrall, in the 3pm concert at the Metropole Ballroom. I was very excited to hear he had set John Clare poems to music. And then he sang this, entitled Song, by Clare, but known by its opening line, Sweet the Pleasures I do Find. The song is to be found in A Midsummer Cushion. It remains one of my favourite songs ever.
Last year I wrote this poem using some of the phrases from it as hooks. Whitby is now a regular feature on my calendar, and I now run the poetry workshops (and have for about 8 years). Being a very small thread in such a rich festival feels wonderful. Already looking forward to seeing the friends I’ve made and welcoming people to my writing poetry sessions. And of course, hearing Gordon Tyrrall again. I wrote a book about John Clare, which is available from Greenwich Exchange publishers.
Whitby Folk Week Summers
after John Clare
Sweet the pleasures
Turkish delight ice-cream
Gin and tonic on the balcony
Scented pink roses in damp gardens
When every green is fresh with flowers
Spice of earth after summer rain
Cut grass on evening air
Walking back from concerts
And linnets sing to cheer me
Sailing ships in the bay
Fish and chips in Royal Fisheries
Heaven to be near thee
First sight of the sea from the moor road
Golden hours with special friends
The heather song on the closing night
Banished to some barren isle
Warm afternoons of sea swimming
The last sweet notes of every concert
Bunch of heather drying on the window sill
6 responses to “Whitby Folk Week Summers”
Great poem, Angela.
Whitby Folk Festival is on my retirement wish list and your blog posts are whetting my appetite 🙂
Glad you like the poem and I hope one day to see you at my workshops!
Lovely poem and event, would like to go there one day
…a lovely town.. 🙂
even better during Folk Week, when friends might be met on any corner.
Beautiful Angela. I can smell the summer and sea