During my stay in York this August a friend and I decided to take a trip to Ripon, a village a little northwest of York. I was excited to go there and see the cathedral, and I had entertained a certain fascination for Ripon ever since my student days in York, when one of my professors told that occasionally, when the populace of York was sufficiently hostile, the archbishop would retreat to Ripon. As a consequence the village grew in importance throughout the Middle Ages, and naturally a cathedral was erected.
Before coming to Ripon we drove by bus through a late-summer Yorkshire landscape of golden fields, meandering rivers, narrow roads and small hamlets. In time I intend to get back to the subject of Ripon on this blog, but for the time being - since post-thesis ennui has rendered me unable to compose long posts - I will here present a minor poem that grew out of a fond recollection of that archetypal English countryside.
The stone-built villages of England.
- Stone Villages, Joseph Brodsky
The Road to Ripon
There were hedgerows, open fields, and the narrow road
quarreling with the stone houses for its thoroughfare,
heading for Ripon in a quiet pilgrimage.
The houses were as I expected them to be,
the churches, too, and one by one each hamlet
flaunted their sleepy charm and was gone,
nameless to a stranger as if they were coyly shy
and sought by namelessness to be inviting.
Time ceased to pass on the country road;
the northern nooks, the mute river and the alleys
of chestnut or willow seemed not to know
there was a world outside, but rather found their peace
cradled in the orient corn of August,
whose light breeze whispered lullabies from when the North was young.
- November 05 2012