Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Remains of Elmet

I found this book at the London Review Bookshop, a place I had long dreamed about visiting. I wanted something small to take as a souvenir, so I picked this. Admittedly, Ted Hughes is always a mixed bag for me. Some of his stuff is complete genius, and other things strike me as trite and dull. This book, unfortunately, falls into the trite and dull category. Especially this edition! Ted Hughes explains in the introduction:

The Calder valley, west of Halifax, was the last ditch of Elmet, the last British Celtic kingdom to fall to the Angles. For centuries it was considered a more or less uninhabitable wilderness, a notorious refuge for criminals, a hide-out for refugees. Then in the early 1800s it became the cradle for the Industrial Revolution in textiles, and the upper Calder became 'the hardest-worked river in England'.
Throughout my lifetime, since 1930, I have watched the mills of the region and their attendant chapels die. Within the last fifteen years the end has come. they are now virtually dead, and the population of the valley and the hillsides, so rooted for so long, is changing rapidly. 
Fay Godwin set out to capture some impressions of this landscape at this moment, and her photographs moved me to write the accompanying poems. 

Okay, so, get it? He grew up here, and Fay's photos inspired him to write poems to accompany the photos. But you know what this edition doesn't have? The photos! Naturally, when the book was first printed, it was printed, duh, with the photos. Now, I have not looked at the photos, or seen how the poems fit with them. But... I have a feeling that this poems would seem much better with them. As they stand, they seem to be to be ripped in half. It reminds me of how I felt when I read this.

No comments:

Post a Comment