Yorkshire by Kathryn Metcalfe

Guest editor Degna Stone chose this poem saying “I like the way the changes that occur to the speaker in this poem are caused by the landscape and by a reaction to or against the generation that came before.” 

Kathryn herself says “the poem is about how identity can be shaped by our background and where we come from. In my case a Irish Catholic mother and a Yorkshire father. The questions asked at the beginning of each stanza are taken from the Catholic catechism and the replies are my answer. I have used a quote from Wuthering Heights- Cathy’ speech about being flung out of heaven. As I have grown up and got to know more  about my father’s family and where they come from, I feel that it has shaped me more than my mother’s though I am also aware of both having a large influence on who I am. 

There is also a poetry film of ‘Yorkshire’ made by Lesley Traynor.

Yorkshire

Who made you?

At thirteen I fell between the pages

of Wuthering Heights,

learned that I was made of moor and stone,

my mother’s penny catechism was wrong.

 

Why did God make you?

 

To walk where crooked trees stand lonely,

in his own country,

‘And that heaven did not seem

to be my home’.

 

To whose image and likeness did God make you?

 

Shaped and fashioned by slate grey rain;

stones speak to me in dry stack voices,

asking me where the heath ends and I begin.

 

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Kathryn Metcalfe is a published poet from Renfrewshire. She was one of the Mill Girl Poets who wrote and performed a stage show of poetry, spoken word and song about the lives and heritage of the women who worked in the Paisley threadmills. She also founded Nights at the Round Table, a monthly open mic for poets and writers to share their work. 

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