The Burbage Valley


The Burbage Valley | Alistair Noon

Within the great gap which
no glaring text or image
could nudge the brain to envisage,
given the wind’s gradations,
the solar degrees, the latent
unquarried space to leap into,

nevertheless the chalk hands
stretch out to form their synapses
where the gritstone neurones happen,
though each international prospector
of the boulder’s climbing wealth
makes a distant mica speck,

like a waste dump’s compacted glitter,
on the cliff’s fantastic grip,
its shape and balance and friction.
Making their Mark on the torn
anticline’s castle, they look down
to the dip and a furry Dunsinane.

Still stuck on the zebra finch’s
elaborate laboratory signals,
I blanked the reed bunting,
and the foot-dangling raven
flew down the path to the Iron Age,
the stone fort’s rounded oration.

Surely, someone’s inscribed
somewhere along such lines:
I am the ruler of Darbyshire.
My realms comprise Mam Tor’s
broken road, the Cave of Thor,
Stanage, Chee Dale, Kinder Downfall.

Done with the events of the coast
in the air, the mud and stone
of the moorland’s minor archipelago:
forward to the gallery district’s
graffitied alleys and the derelict
steel mills, the developing relicts.

The Burbage valley lies 8km north-west of Sheffield. The valley is drained by Burbage brook, a tributary of the River Derwent. The valley has been carved through two different types of rock – ‘millstone grit’ and ‘shale’.

The image featured on this page is the first of six drawings created by Paul Evans in response to Alistair Noon’s poem. A short film comprising all six drawings, the poem and a soundtrack by Brian Lewis is available on the Longbarrow Press Vimeo site; click here to view the film. Listen to Alistair Noon reading ‘The Burbage Valley’:

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