Saturday, 14 January 2012

Friends Beyond the Summer Wine

Foggy Dewhurst, Nora Batty, big Sid making cups of tea,
Compo Simmonite and Eli,
And Blamire, Seymour and Edie, lie in Holmfirth cemetery!

"Gone, I call them, gone for good, that group of local hearts and heads
Yet at evening rush-hour,
Or last orders when the noon-heat breathes it back from walls and leads

They’ve a way of whispering to me—fellow-tyke who yet abide—
In the muted, measured note
Of a ripple under archways, on a  Pennine hillside.

“We have triumphed: this achievement turns the bane to antidote,
Unsuccesses to success,
Many thought-worn eves and morrows to a morrow free of thought.

“No more need we buns and coffee, free of all West Yorkshire stress;
Chill detraction stirs no sigh;
Fear of death ne'er seemed to scare us: yet death gave all that we possess.”

Wainright: You can burn the Karl Marx picture that I kept beside the bed
Close the library, flog the books off
We're all equal now we're dead.

Nora Batty: Let the pigeons foul the path that once I kept so cleanly swept.
Snap the clothes prop, break the yard-brush
Dirt and soil I now accept.

Foggy Dewhurst: You can sell the campaign medals that I won in countries far
But though you search through all the boxes,
You won't find the Burma star.

Compo: Throw away my woolly hat, and let my ferrets run quite free
Let the women pass un-harassed
No attraction now, for me.

All: Pints of Tetley, Syd's foul cuppas, coffee gatherings so long
Scary women, feeble men-folk
They don't matter where we've gone.

Do we care in which far dale Howard and Marina ride
Or that Pearl, with shrewish wisdom,
knows he's something still to hide?

We don't care who's in the Co-op, who's no better than she ought,
Who's gone riding in a bath-tub
Or donkey-chasing for his sport.

We don't care if Norman Clegg still goes to Ivy's caff for tea,
or if the former Mrs Truelove's
as awful as she used to be.

Thus where Yorkshire grit's not needed, where flat-capped folk finally creep
In that quiet, moonlit bone-yard
As  mill-girls and landlords sleep,

Foggy Dewhurst, Nora Batty, big Sid making cups of tea,
Compo Simmonite and Eli,
And Blamire, Seymour and Edie, whisper gently now to me!

(After "Friends Beyond", by Thomas Hardy)

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