Sir Herbert Read Kirkdale

One of the churches we visited on our recent visit to North Yorkshire, was the beautiful Anglo Saxon church: St Gregory's Minster in the lovely village of Kirkdale.

Sir Herbert Read, poet and critic, spent his early years in the parish of Kirkdale, and then from 1949 to 1968, he and his wife lived at Stonegrave. They are buried in the churchyard of St Gregory's Minster in Kirkdale.

In his collection A World within a War (1944) Read published his poem Kirkdale:

I, Orm the son of Gamel
Found these fractured stones
Starting out of the fragrant thicket.
The river bed was dry.

The rooftrees naked and bleached,
Nettles in the nave and aisleways,
On the altar an owl's cast
And a feather from a wild dove's wing.

There was peace in the valley:
Far into the eastern sea
The for had gone, leaving death and ruin
And a longing for the priest's solace.

Fast the feather lay
Like a sulky jewel in my head
Till I knew it had fallen in a holy place.
Therefore I raised these grey stones up again.