Wednesday, September 23, 2009


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


  1. I'm not familiar with Harrison and now I'm intrigued. This poem is delightful. I'm imagining Eliza Doolittle reciting this with a mouthful of marbles. :^)

    I'm off now, to find more Tony Harrison. Thanks, Alan....

  2. You know you may be invoking the War of the Roses all over again. I'm a Lancashire lass. Oh I have been known to 'lushshuffle'

  3. What a marvellous concept - poet and artist capturing the event of capturing the event. Nowadays this would be an hour long clip on YouTube, but with poems like these, who needs cameras?
    Thanks Alan, great post.

  4. Really beatiful...I can see why it's a favorite. I love the idea of one writing about the one sketching... simultaneously.

  5. It sounds like such a quiet community.

  6. the imagery in the poem is amazing, i was right there in the scene. nice capture alan.

  7. Ah, Bridlington; memories of time as a lad on family 'seaside' trips. That would be the 50s.

  8. Ah, Something Earthy & Elemental about good Yorkshire Art. Surprisingly,(unlike say ,Cricket & such)We are very modest about our Art& Artists.

  9. Anonymous5:47 PM

    Alan, good thing you saved that clipping! This is a rather relaxing read. I like and ta for sharing it!

  10. Thanks everyone.
    Willow : I am pleased I have been able to introduce you to Tony Harrison.
    Baino : You have mentioned before that you were a Lancashire Lass. I ignored it then and I will continue to do so.
    Rookie : What you say about YouTube is very true.
    Betsy : I too love the idea of one painting the other writing about the first.
    Skip & Brian : Bridlington (known to all around here as Brid) is a lovely spot.
    John : Brid in the fifties - me too, We seem to have followed each other around on several occasions.
    Tony : I agree - and we have nothing to be modest about.
    Subby : Glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Hockney, yes... Harrison, no. But not for long. Nice piece of work.

  12. A very satisfying poem to read--solid & well-built!

  13. I really 'felt' your home county as I read but the sketch didn't really d much for me. Sorry!


Annie Burnett And The Dead Fox Marker

This is a photograph of my Auntie Annie - Annie Elizabeth Burnett who, in October 1933, became Annie Moore. My guess is that this particular...