Poem: Echoes of Gawthorpe in 1900

Gawthorpe Hall.'Photo Reece Farnhill
Gawthorpe Hall.'Photo Reece Farnhill

Swaddled in moonlight the maid lies sleeping

Silent now, the bells. No clanking, heft of pots, nor ceaseless calls for wines and victuals, or servile curtsies.

Acquiescence, asinine rituals.

Champagne fuelled, tearful goosings, the only bubbles

beneath sugar glass.

Frozen ponds where silver slivering trout glisten.

Silent now, no stinging eyes,

nor ruddy, cursing butler,

swotting flies.

Opaque macabre stares from hanging fowl. Cutting buckles, aching muscles, back breaking, skin chafing.

Silent now save deep, resentful growls of hounds echoing unheard through Gawthorpe’s grounds.

Suddenly the maid awakes,

bedsides bonnet glistens and in night’s solitude she listens.

Is that her mothers longing sigh? Or Calder’s current sliding by ?

Surely her brother’s teething howl or screeching arc of passing owl ?

She lies alone, so alone, just a mile from her family home. Sent into service at fourteen, Eyes shut tight she longs to dream. Soon-too soon, the day; like any other.

Nick Verity

Bridge Street, Padiham