Tyne View by Port of Tyne Writer in Residence
Many writers have been inspired by the Tyne and used it as the setting or theme for poems, plays, short stories and novels
It seems fitting to republish them here and I'd be delighted to receive your ideas and nominations.
To set the ball rolling, here's a poem I first heard at primary school in Newcastle in the late 50's. Written by Francis Scarfe, it made a deep impression on me at the time - and I still think it has a definite tingle factor, suffused as it is with vivid detail and quiet melancholy.
Scarfe was born in South Shields in 1911 but was brought up at the Royal Merchant Seaman's Orphanage and educated at Durham University, Cambridge and then the Sorbonne in Paris. He became a poet, critic and academic, flirted with both communism and the Surrealist movement, but evidently never forget the place of his birth. He died in 1986.
Please send any ideas for further previously published pieces about the Tyne and its riverside communities to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Francis Scarfe
The summer season at Tyne Dock
Lifted my boyhood in a crane
Above the shaggy mining town
Above the slaghills and the rocks
Above the middens in backlanes
And wooden hen-huts falling down
Grass grew vermilion in the streets
Where the blind pit-ponies pranced
And poppies screamed by butchers' stalls
Where bulls kicked sparks with dying feet
And in the naked larks I sensed
A cruel god beneath it all
Over the pithead wheel the moon
Was clean as a girl's face in school
I envied the remote old man
Who lived there quiet and alone
While in the kitchen the mad spool
Unwound as Annie's treadle ran
The boyish season is still there
For clapping hands and leaping feet
Across the slagheaps and the dunes
And still it breaks into my care
Though I will never find the street
Nor find the old impulsive tune
Nor ever lose that child's despair.