A wonderful poem by Debjani Chatterjee that sums up the whole project!

© Debjani Chatterjee

THREADS THAT TIE

Cotton stretched between

Our lands – tender threads tie us.

Silk stretched between us.

Jute, tea, cricket, yoga, blood…

Strong strings of shared history.

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I’m proud to present a new poem by Dave Kirby inspired by the project

© Dave Kirby

Hunters

A Death in Three Parts

Part I

She misses everything.

She misses her home, her mother and her sisters. She misses the green Derbyshire countryside, the blue of the lake and the grey of a cloudy sky. She misses the deer that run from her carriage and the wrens that light on her window sill.

And she misses the rain. What she would give too walk in the chill September rain.

She misses the food. Bombay Duck (it’s a fish in the name of God, not a duck) is no substitute for Cook’s Herrings in Pastry.

But then she thinks of the Peacock Dress and maybe, just maybe, it all seems worth it. Stitched of gold and embroidered with feathers of peacocks, the beetle wing eyes could be emeralds. There is no equal.

And it is hers.

She cocks her head and smiles for the camera.

It clicks.

Part II

This a man’s country.

A man could die here.

The stark landscape, the deadly beasts, the heat. It is a place where a man can pit himself against nature.

On the voyage over here it could not see this place as home, now he can see nowhere else.

His home is a palace. A genuine palace with gold and tapestries and servants. It is nothing less than he deserves.

And the servants here show him respect, not the fake tugging on a cap while laughing behind his back.

This place is his destiny.

He looks down at the corpse of the noble beast. It is his trophy, his kill, his pride.

Hands on pockets he strikes a pose and smiles for the camera.

It clicks.

Part III

He sees the small dark shape approach.

Although he is not hungry, he has eaten of this meat before and it is an easy kill, so he lumbers forward.

He does not the others and their nets, nor their leader with his club.

When he awakes, he finds himself tied. His head hurts and he has a thirst like no other. His awakening strikes the small prey into action. One pokes him with a stick and he tries to raise a paw. Sadly the pain, the rope and the thirst have deprived him of his will.

A paler prey with different plumage approaches with what looks like a large heavy stick. Instinctively, he knows there is danger and he does what it is his nature to do. He tries to leap but they have been careful with their bonds and he falls to the floor.

The pale man lifts his stick and points it towards him.

It clicks.

The Carpenter Letters by John Barron

I am proud to present a series of poems by John Barron inspired by reflections on Edward Carpenter and the project:

Ed, yes, I’ve had gifts before from gentlemen like you,

organ grinders all, a silver cigarette case,

a fob watch with a brassy gleam,

once my first taste ever, Muscat Grapes,

most sent back to Da and gone into the river of drink.

You gave me things I couldn’t pawn,

that blue, blue gaze, each dip and fold of you.

I feel you fast like a knot in my guts,

dark stain in my gullet down into the pit of me.

It’s flight, precarious aye, for we’ve all feet of clay,

but I envisage also we occupy beyond flesh

uncharted territories of air. Just trust this time.

Nothing to hold on to. Truth is, we’re all falling.

Yes, I remember, life without you is very long.

The double bed, my thanks, we fell together,

your mouth and my mouth, your noble legs,

the heather and gritstone ridge of them.

But I’m a razor grinder, so please excuse

the fewness of these lines. I really can’t say.

I looked into The Blue Ball and saw for myself

just more of this, beer slopping over onto the bar,

the fights, men trying to drink themselves to peace,

her still breathing beside me night after night,

so this letter comes to you from another land,

where I collapsed and am free to enjoy.

I’d thought myself not me at all, part

of some weighty immovable thing, but I splintered,

became a flint arrowhead aimed at America.

I bear still the marks of your napping.

So now I love not one but another

and another and not just a woman neither,

and see for the first time morning sunlight streak

the wood smoke curled like a question mark.

 

Make do and mend. I can garden, cook, hunt,

patch, wind a bit of tape around, put a nail in

and keep out the wet for yet another year.

Porridge and old clothes, a cup of tea and sunshine,

dirt under the fingernails, the wind and leaves at play

smiling, the wolves and bears folded under the bed.

Have a drink and keep a lid on that ache in the side.

Life moves on it must, we were just good friends.

Knowing him was like opening some hidden door.

My boots lie by it were they always were, waiting.

Did any of it hurt? Hell no, I didn’t say

a word, I didn’t say a word like love

gone, but I’m grateful to have known and grateful

for small and now say in spite of thank you thank you.

Even as you fell, your eyes looked up undefeated.

For want of you I took on last night.

I live in that moment of silence after the crash,

when a swarm of dust lifts then lands reconfigured,

though as if nothing had been disturbed at all.

I cared about your corners, even the webbed places,

the distemper and flaking paint.

Something shone through from behind,

outstretched wings of a garuda, a corona

half-concealed, blue lotus around the lingam.

The stain of your watery soul rose like vapour

from around the green and puddled bedstone.

I console myself there is still sky, sunlight.

I cared. I cared about all of it.

Carpenter wakes from a life review, pops out his head,

fresh from the hell realms of Victorian Leeds.

Surprised not to be alive in the land of the gods

he shakes off crumbs of frozen soil from his hat,

black anarchist coat and sandals (with socks).

He walks out into the modern city, mingles

with the bankers, admires the cut of a Paul Smith suit,

reads on a lorry animal byproduct category three

not for human consumption, notes the familiar names

Meanwood, Killingbeck, The Skinner’s Arms,

the new poor doors on a block of flats,

until his troubled coalescence of flesh reforms.

He sprouts wings, develops compound eyes, grows

a thousand tongues that burn a flame in darkness,

squeals like the vivisectionist’s rabbit, talks

to himself and others, no longer friendly but alone:

I assert the dignity of human labour, long

for the stroke of sun and a beautiful man.

He chops himself into a thousand pieces to feed

the patch-coated pitman and ironworker long-deceased.

His flaming tongues rain down in a thousand towns,

set light to bins full of chicken wings and lottery tickets.

The smoke writes words across the sky

The rebirth of England cannot come without from you.

All © John Barron

5 Ganesha Stories, 5 Environmental Thoughts

This year’s Ganesha walk was a vibrant one. 2nd of August 2014 was high summer, but one of the pleasanter days, with some showers, and breeze. It was lovely walking along the river, not feeling that thirsty, walking across some muddy bits. Stopping by woods, under trees and besides lush river banks, twelve of us engaged with some Hindu stories and reflection on nature. The Ganesha walk is a gentle two mile walk starting at Grindleford train station car park. The little café at Grindleford is a welcome feature of our start point, to pick up water and even some big lunches if needed! I always like to have a little peek at the book shelf, which stocks many interesting publications on the Peak District National Park, its trails, biodiversity, history and its people. Starting at 11 am, we usually aim to get to Hathersage train station around 2.30 pm, stopping for lunch and a couple of breaks on route. We finish at Hathersage train station, we ask participants to bring £1.70 with them, to get themselves on the train to Grindleford- the starting point. So we end up on a circular route, half walk, and half train journey, so people can get back to their cars, vans etc.

Myself and Anne Goodwin, a ranger on shift at Brunts Barn, who is a writer and very interested in storytelling, and Hindu tales, lead the walk. We narrate the stories using pictures as props, and also natural features of the National Park. This year, I decided that I have some bright ideas, and want to pick up one key point for reflection from each story. Anne was game for it and so came about this ‘ 5 stories, 5 environmental thoughts’ scheme.

So here the outline of our scheme. We felt it was quite well received!

story -ET snip

If you want to listen to the whole stories, you will have to join us on the walk next year, or research them yourselves!

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Since childhood I have enjoyed listening to Puranas that are set in the outdoors, and my dance training also helped me imagine the outdoors artistically. As I was training as a ranger in 2010, these were my only connections with the outdoors, unlike some of my fellow trainees who had been walking for quite some years before they embarked on ranger trainee. I would hear from rangers the names of rock formations, and I would be reminded of the shiva lingham, my only point of association with the rock! I pressed on along those lines and then began to think out of the box. When I saw that the Hindu Samaj in Sheffield do a visarjan (immersion) of the Ganesha idol, I thought people would enjoy a walk in the countryside and developed the Ganesha walk. The outdoors and nature may not be familiar to us Indians and Hindus, as in it isn’t that common to hold maps and tramp the countryside, but it is integral to our life in other ways, I discovered. I wanted to explore. Well, after all, that is the remit of the ranger – to explore the landscape, so I was going to physically explore, culturally explore and spiritually explore. Avadhutta Dattatreya (a Hindu teacher) famously talks of many birds and animals as his teachers, as a ranger I find I learn a tremendous lot from observing nature, and I began to discover that I can make a tremendous lot of sense from what I am learning using Hindu philosophy. I was hooked to this connection now – Rangering and Hindu Philosophy!

It was in the midst of this journey that I was interviewed by radio 4 about the work I was doing on a chap called Edward Carpenter, who many decades ago, was going through the same process – understanding nature and making sense of it, living very near the Peak District. He visited India, met a guru, and was hooked to Hindu philosophy! So I discovered I wasn’t the only one exploring the landscape through Hinduism in the heart of the north of England!

Actually I am told on good authority, these explorations/ thoughts are not alien to the British Isles, and could be very very old indeed! I received a fascinating letter, written by the fireside by a radio 4 listener. It took me on a wonderful journey of language and ritual in the British Isles! It struck a chord in him, the correspondent wrote, listening to a ‘magnificent and original programme’ on Radio 4, where I spoke of the Ganesha walk. His letter struck a chord with me, that willingness to open up and explore and marvel at discoveries, and particularly to communicate that!

He wrote about the Ganesh festival celebrations in Sheffield,

” Your mention of Ganesha being washed in the river Don struck a chord with me, a chord that may go back many thousands of years.

The old languages of Britain (Celtic, and later Teutonic) are descended from the same language as Sanskrit. In an impressive family tree from millennia ago, the eminent archaeologist Barry Cunliffe speaks of a ‘proto Indo-European language’ which branched out into three, one of which went East and evolved into Sanskrit, the other went to Mongolia and onwards to America and yet another went to Europe and obliterated older native languages (of which Basque, Finnish and Hungarian survive today). The European language further fragmented and became Greek and Roman and around 6,000 years ago, another split led to Celtic and Teutonic. The Celts invaded Britain and from it evolved Manx, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gallic. The Teutons became the Anglo-Saxons and also the Norse invaders. The Peak District was taken over by the Anglo-Saxons or Norse invaders.

Eilert Ekwall, author of Oxford dictionary of English place-names and English river names says Don is from the British ‘Dana’, an old name for water, related to Sanskrit ‘ danu’ (rain or moisture)

The origins of many Welsh and English words for the basics of life seem to have links with Sanskrit and the Proto Indo European. (look up mother, father, water, tree, door, oak, sky, earth, horse, door) It seems in short, the ancestors of Welsh and Anglo-saxons carry the same words as the people of India, as we are all from the same source.

The Welsh legends are based on families, I do not see them as ‘Gods’ exactly (perhaps a Victorian word for these beings?), but as characters who live for so long and are so archetypal that they appear, compared to our short lives, to be immortal. The Vikings who came to the Peak District had tales of the Aesir and the Vanir: Orin, Thor, Frey and Freya, Loki etc etc, much is known of the male gods as their stories were written down, but the stories of the fertility deities such as Frey and Freya (brother and sister) (as in Friday) are few. I remember in ‘Gods and myths of Northern Europe’ (H.R.Elis Davidson) that there is a record of a ceremony, witnessed by a Christian missionary, of carts containing idols of Frey and Freya being wheeled into the lake in Denmark for the idols to be washed.

I know very little of the ninth legends, and forget what I’ve read in the Upanishads and the Bhagvad Gita, but my feeling for all the stories of Krishna, Siva, Brahma, of Ram and Hanuman and Lakshmi, has been one of recognition. I feel deeply that the tales passed down to us in Britain are from the same source or wellspring as the tales that are told from India. Now how much the spread of language reflects the spread of actual people, or if language colonises a native people who then switch tongues, I do not know. But the washing of Ganesh in the Don seems right to me.

I do not know if you are aware of ‘well dressing’ (at Tissington, Buxton etc) where flower pictures adorn springs (always sacred to Celts) or of garland Days, when a main is dressed all in leaves like a giant bush mounted on a horse (at Castleton, I think) India without elephants!

I feel your work in the Peak District is completing a circle.”

Signed off as ‘your distant cousin’

Isn’t it all just amazing! I am so very pleased to have also received a bibliography for further reading on these ideas, which I very much look forward to reading.

Great news! Our impact on a UNESCO World Heritage site!

Great news! A UNESCO world heritage site has now acted on our feedback and is taking corrective measures to present a global version of the history of the industrial revolution! So a project that began based on my own personal corrective of history, shared by some members of the Hindu Samaj, Sheffield, is beginning to have wider outcomes! Delighted! So next time you visit the world heritage sites of Derwent valley mills, you will see the outcome of our efforts in the interpretation boards in Cromford Mill – the first ever water powered spinning mill in the world! For the first time, India, the origin and home to the world’s oldest cotton industry will get a mention in a Cromford Mill interpretation panel!

This follows a promising talk by Michael Ledger, Education officer at Cromford Mill.

Chamu Kuppuswamy

More poetry

We continue to receive some exciting creative contributions to our legacy project!
 
ARKWRIGHT
by Geoffrey Roberts
Astute
Ruthless
Knowledgeable
Workaholic
Remarkable
Inventive
Genius
Hard
Taskmaster
© Geoffrey Roberts

MATLOCK

By Saswati Dey

M Magnificent scenery

A Abundance of Rhododendrons

T Tree lined roads

L Little lambs in the fields with their mothers

O Old stone cottages

C Cable cars high above

K Kites in the summer sky

© Saswati Dey
If you are interested in sending us a creative response to the project please email me at e.r.cleall@sheffield.ac.uk

A painting and a poem

I was delighted to receive this beautiful painting and poem from Ashoka Sen. I think they really capture the beauty of the Peak District.

 

'Summer' by Ashoka Sen © Ashoka Sen

‘Summer’ by Ashoka Sen
© Ashoka Sen

 

O my darling lovely Derwent

 By Ashoka Sen

 

O my darling, lovely Derwent,

The shimmering, emerald river,

With a glorious song and refreshing scent

You bless our valley forever.

 

You traveling minstrel, with your lyre,

You create each day a lovely lore,

The melody climbs up higher and higher,

To reach out for the heaven’s door.

The strings keep strumming all day long.

The mountain shivers with joy no bound.

The pleasure of feeling bright and strong

Binds us together all around.

 

O my darling, lovely Derwent,

The shimmering, emerald river

With a glorious song and refreshing scent

You bless our valley forever.

 

As I stroll in your solitary dales

In the snow shower and in spring,

I can hear your anklet bells

All through the day how sweetly ring.

 

With your peacock dress speckled with sun

And hair bedecked with wild flowers

You look splendid as you run,

O my girl, from bowers to bowers.

 

O my darling lovely Derwent

The shimmering emerald river,

With a glorious song and refreshing scent

You bless our valley forever.

© Ashoka Sen

As regular readers of the blog will know, we are currently collecting creative responses to the project, to the Peak District, to the relationship between India and Britain and to cotton and textiles. If you have anything you’d like to contribute please send it to me at e.r.cleall@sheffield.ac.uk