Whit Friday in Delph


The music swamps all other, lesser, sounds.
The drumbeats resonate from grey stone walls,
and, waiting in our crowded place, we hear
the clarion combination of the notes,
as down the main street comes the marching band.
They turn, and we can see them – and the board
which tells their name and class and the piece they’ll play.

The judges in the room above mark blind:
except they know the bands and players thoroughly.
They recognise the cornet player’s skill;
the way that trombone’s used for shade or depth.
We listen as the fine old tunes are played –
Perhaps Knight Templar, Wizard, Castell Coch
And all are silent as the music flows,
censorious of other noises round.

But when it stops, we gossip as they leave:
“That man has played for fifty years or more”
“Their soloist, I think she’s still at school”:
then wait the next band: Foden? Or Black Dyke?
Brighouse and Rastrick? Besses o’ the Barn?
But when we see it’s local, Dobcross Youth,
It seems they get the most applause of all.

The music moves through crowded streets, past pubs,
past antique lamp-post, chip shop, stream and bridge,
and floats up in the cool blue, late-spring sky;
curls over moor and fell and grazing sheep…

and winds itself into our memories.

Elizabeth Horrocks

delph whit friday
Photos by Shaun Horrocks

If you have any thoughts on this poem, 
Elizabeth Horrocks would be pleased to hear them.