The Romantic Poet William Wordsworth wrote a lot of his poetry while striding out across the fells. And in winter, he often took to the lake; not on a boat, but on skates. You can see one of his skates in a glass cabinet in the Wordsworth Museum next to Dove Cottage. In his speech at the opening of The Jerwood Centre in Grasmere in 2005, poet Seamus Heaney spoke of his thrill of encountering this treasure. And there is something about this skate that makes you shiver; especially when you read Wordsworth’s lines in The Prelude about cutting across the image of a star while ice skating on Esthwaite as a child. Perhaps every Lakeland poet that follows hopes to catch a glimmer of that star.
Under His Star
He pushes his blades along the frozen lake,
discards his own shadow for the image of a star,
and later writes The Prelude on its gleam.
I push my spikes into newborn flakes,
take sideways strides towards icy night
and try to catch the angle of its beam.
Two centuries on, his star remains aligned.
His phrases reach through place and time,
while I write words in the snow, and dream.