Sowerby Bridge and Copley Valley

I spent a Saturday in March at Copley Primary School, talking to members of the public and viewing an exhibition of suggested design ideas for the Sowerby Bridge Copley Valley Transformation project. I used this experience as inspiration to write a triple sonnet recording people’s responses to the potential development. The intention is that this sonnet will be engraved on a plaque to accompany a tree planted in the development.

Copley Valley
‘Yet some maintain that to this day
she is a living child,
that you may see sweet Lucy Gray
upon the lonesome wild’

from ‘Lucy Gray’ by William Wordsworth,
written after a tragedy that happened at Sterne Bridge in Copley in the early 1800s.

1.
We all need safety, we all need chances
To live in a place and feel part of it,
Not to rule somewhere, like kings or princes,
Hoarding its treasures in our hearts, but yet
To have for a while, and to explore,
To look after well and keep as our trust
To give to our children, for them to care,
When we blow round this valley as part of the dust.
Our touch must be kind, it must be subtle,
With the birds and the beasts as part of our plan,
We are the curators, we must be mindful,
Of the needs of woman, child and man,
To feel a belonging, and to expect
The best for a place to which we connect.

2.
Talk to the woman who walks in the woods,
Who greets all the seasons as her friend,
Tramping the paths and the fields with her dogs,
Where past and present and future blend.
Walking where she walked five decades ago,
Where the kingfisher darts, vivid blue flame.
Her life in this valley, sunshine and snow,
Is engraved on her face, by wind and by rain.
People and places share geology,
In each line on the face, groove of the beck
The wearing of time is clear to see.
We walk through the woods, with no turning back,
Our lives as fleeting, but somehow as true,
As the kingfisher’s sudden flash of blue.

3.
Take notice how near we are to the edge
Of open country, river, wood and field,
Between Copley village and Sowerby Bridge,
How soon the houses to nature yield;
And how much memory haunts and clings
To trees and grass, to breeze and river flow,
Down here where a blackbird full-hearted sings
In early morning amongst the dew.
And will that magic be augmented,
By the cries of children playing here?
As the days move on, let each one be granted
A life in this tapestry from year to year,
Holding the past, and yet endeavouring too,
To stitch in the future with threads of the new.

© James Nash 2009