I clipped the following out of the Guardian twelve years ago. I am probably infringing a dozen copyright laws by reprinting it here, but what the hell. I love the poem and I adore the drawing and together they seem to sum up my native county better than anything else I have ever seen.
Tony Harrison and David Hockney, arguably England's greatest poet and painter, were born ten miles apart in Yorkshire 60 years ago. They have been friends for the past 20 years, but it was only last summer in Bridlington that they finally worked together. Hockney produced this picture of Harrison who wrote the following poem.
by Tony Harrison
Him drawing those lines, me composing these,
our breathing inside louder than the sea's
Yorkssshhhire .... ssshhh, Yorkssshhhire .... ssshhh they say
the whispering waves on this last day of May.
Pebbles skimmed by two school-skiving kids
bounce on bulky waves that dawdle into Brid's
bare beaches where a man shouts, "Stay!"
to his disobedient dog who runs away,
the studio clock with its metallic tick
the craftblade scratching on the charcoal stick,
the gulls' cries and the crows' dry caws,
as I compose, stock-still, and David draws,
and Brid's grey ocean, lisping and then lush
shuffles into one long silent ssshhh!
May 31 1996