'Walking Dwelling Thinking' - music by Amy Crankshaw, poem by Rebecca Hurst

'Wind in Trees' - music by Jasmine Simons, poem by Vona Groarke

'October and October and October' (Stones and Sweeper) - music by Finn McLean, poem by Chad Campbell

'Pyramid' - music by Simon Davies, poem by Frances Leviston

Interval

'Erysichthon's Forest' - music by Richard Whalley, text by John McAuliffe:

  Erysichthon's Proposal

  Erysichthon's Axe

  Mestra's Lament

Performers

Composers

Poems

Walking Dwelling Thinking - Rebecca Hurst

This wood has a thousand exits and entrances: 

stiles, gates and tripets, gaps and breaches. 

 

This wood is hammer-pond, chestnut and chalybeate, 

charcoal and slag heap, leats and races. 

 

This wood hides the boar-sow in a thickety hemmel; 

is home to the scutty, the flindermouse, the kine. 

 

This wood is cut and coppiced and burned. 

Each decade catched-hurt—it takes a tumble. 

 

This wood is two green and clay flanks pinched 

by the link of iron bridge over water. 

 

This wood keeps its secrets: the peaty-black 

knuckerhole where the dragon lies sleeping. 

 

This wood scolds with a tawny owl’s brogue 

shrucking and shraping, kewick hoohoo. 

 

This wood is ashen, eldern, and oaken 

a mile from the village, ring-fenced, well-trodden. 

 

This wood summons you from out of your house 

to walk through leaf-fall and bluebells and moss.

Wind in Trees – Vona Groarke

Tonight the wind tries on fancy dress

in the attic rooms of trees,

 

crinolines and winkle-pickers,

mustachios and swords,

 

a jewelled fob-watch keeping time

with my shutters’ throb and hum.

 

Silks crinkle precisely at my window

and, at my door, an ivory cane

 

is summoning my name.

I ask will anything ever change.

 

First the trees say ‘No’ to me.

Then the wind says ‘Yes’.

Stones and Sweeper - Chad Campbell

What news do you bring us? 

   It's October. The leaves have fallen. 

 

From where? The thicket on the slope? 

   No. Higher on the ridges, the oaks.  

 

What of the ranger? Of the coast? 

   The tine of his lantern on the coast. 

 

Who will sweep the leaves from our stones? 

    I will sweep the leaves from the stones.  

 

Like the woman painted the watches' hands? 

    Yes, pointing the brushes with their tongues. 

 

You will come to us? October and October? 

    October and October and October. 

 

And in the meantime? Where will you go? 

   I will be with the ranger. 

 

Upon the coast? 

   The thin tine of his lantern on the coast.  

 

We will wait by our stones. 

   My radium ghosts in the radium oaks. 

Pyramid – Frances Leviston

All along the skyline, cranes

quiet above rooftops,

conspicuous as knives dropped

vertically into carpet,

 

folded ironing-board-upright

or set at right-

angles, corner brackets

bolting the sky to the ground.

 

They dangle claws on chains,

unbaited hooks

balanced by elevated breeze-blocks,

into the unfinished town,

 

fishing a pond

that hasn’t been stocked.

Their paint-work’s bright as macs

in rain, or the mops and pans

 

a woman once persuaded me to sell

door to door,

describing in the air

of her living room a pyramid,

 

most mysterious

of all mysterious extancies, her red

nail climbing floors

to the vertex, where it stood,

 

or floated,

as she effortlessly said

“in no time at all

you’ll have a lifestyle just like mine…”

 

Through the cranes’

necks the cloudburst rings,

across the clad

stone hotel still missing

 

its penthouse, its punchline,

bucketing down

like the old cartoon

where a skeleton drinks champagne.

Erysichthon's Forest

-music by Richard Whalley, text by John McAuliffe

Erysichthon's Proposal

Erisychthon: Here we are, at the old wood, my wood,

where, as a child, you played.

 

Mestra: I did, father,

Erisychthon: By this old oak, Mestra,

I remember it too, hatching plans here...

 

Mestra: Remember acorns? I'd pick from the oak for you.

And bare winter days I’d climb it into the blue.

Coming here I felt part of its family

It’s good to be back under this this tree

 

Erisychthon: And I’m still making plans, and where better to tell you.

 

Mestra: What’s this plan, father, I heard you roaring, earlier,

At the supervisor on the factory floor

 

Erisychthon: Was I roaring, Mestra? Should I calm down?

Listen, this land is paid for, mine,

Ours. If I plan to burn it down

and tear the earth, I can, it’s mine.

 

Mestra: Is that your plan, father. [WOODS]

 

Erisychthon: The wood that I cut, Mestra, I will not burn;

this wood will be the makings of a new town,

and best of all, the wedding hall

where one day you will be married.

 

Mestra: Where I get married...?

 

Erisychthon: A shining, gleaming wedding hall,

In the middle of my new town,

perched on that little hill,

overlooking all I own

 

Mestra: Father, it’s true

that it’s the Planner decides,

but this wood Father

is sacred to a god,

the god who must bless

a wedding hall.

 

Erisychthon: Forget Her. Watch me make,

with my bare hands and this sharp axe,

your shining gleaming wedding hall

in the middle of my new town,

perched on that little hill,

overlooking all I own.

 

[Enter wood spirits, Exit Erisychthon, Mestra in shadow]

Erysichthon's Axe

My axe waits for the oak,

its fat shadow on the field,

its point growing

on the blue and clouds

and the tinkling glitter

of its swaying ornaments:

what crosses me and mine

I will take out

under this same discriminating tree

you fear, which spreads,

year on year,

across my forecast growth.

No one gets to sit this out,

all are part of my big picture,

what I’ll hang

on my word. Here

is the strong trunk and branch

of my nights and years,

this gleam I’ll take

to the obscure hours

which filter light

and baffle sound:

what presides over us

will end with this sharp question

making its impossible offer.

Mestra's Lament

Where’s the tree I hid under,

branches robins warned me thinly from

when he’d seek me out, my father?

 

Who will bring him to his senses?

In this massacre of branches,

where the robin once was?

 

The earth’s a bare drum,

clear as the horizon

his step lands heavily on

 

where I follow him,

through the forest’s slaughter,

my father’s daughter.