By Richard Smith

In grateful acknowledgement to the Italian composer and violinist Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) who’s own four seasons helped to inspire this work

PRELUDE: If it’s not

If it’s not winter cold sores
Its summer heat stroke

If it’s not winter bronchitis
Its summer asthma

If it’s not winter flu
Its summer sickness

If it’s not winter gloom
Its summer storms

If it’s not winter revellers
Its summer lager louts.

If it’s not winter heating bills
Its summer holiday expenses

If it’s not winter difficulty
Its summer nuisance

There’s always something
For all seasons


Healing spring sunlight
Hallows an old poet’s stomping ground
With glistening, glittering, golden beams
Eagerly provoking an
Easter resurrection of plant life

Woolly sun-shimmered clouds
Drift lazily over
A bracken-strewn moorland ridge
That looms like a petrified wave
Over the sooty terraced houses of
Mytholmroyd village
Tucked sleepily in the valley below

Once a future Poet Laureate
Had played there
Feeding an imagination
That would express itself
In the poems I was
Forced to study at school
Each one portraying nature
As something bleak, savage and cruel
An arena of death for many an animal

But now a thousand sunshine daffodils greet me
Providing testimony of new life
As I tenderly squeeze the hand of the woman I love

A muffled roar of traffic
Drifts up the valley side
Amidst the bleat of new born lambs
Each noisily proclaiming
‘This is Easter time,
The occasion for new life and fresh hope!’
Birds circle overhead
Providing their own gentle greeting
The faint tangy scent of moss
Confirms the natural scene

A stile lies ahead
The first of many to clamber over
The squeak of an opening gate
A climb over a slippery wooden ladder
One last glance thrown back to Mytholmroyd
Then up into muddy woodland
As gently laboured breathing
Marks the beginning of a long walk to Hebden Bridge


Hot summer
Late June weather
Warm breeze

Flat horizon
A remote location
Lost villages

Kilnsea Farms
Roadside hedgerows
Swaying trees

Shifting sands
Curving peninsula
A coastal breeze

Chirping birds
Crunching pebbles
An insect hums

Aching back
Baking hot feet
Cooling breeze

Sewerage stench
Mudflat smells
Sweaty odour

Parched mouth
Dry cactus tongue
Liquid relief

Clearing lungs
Unclogged airways
Easy breathing

Advancing waters
Retreating shoreline
Rising sea

Nibbling tides
Falling mud cliffs
Crumbling clay

Rotting groins
Flood swept cottages
Broken walls

Old bunkers
Wartime ruins
New debris

Narrow path
Slow passing vehicles
Distant views

Tidal marshes
Brown mudflats
Protected wildlife

Creeping dunes
Crunching Seaweed
Needle grass

Rocky beach
Engraved fossils
Broken jetties

Peeling paint
Abandoned lighthouse
Shut entrance

Strong currents
A long, high jetty
A ship’s wake

A lifeboat
One brave crew
Saved lives

Closed cafe
Ugly radio station
Bobbing ferry

Estuary view
Old fortification
Lapping waves

Sandy spit
Flanking waters
Estuary border

Cruising boats
A standing oil rig
Grimsby view

Welcome rest
A consumed snack
Refreshing drinks

Faint feeling
A sunshine doze
Perfect rest

Unusual beauty
Now a memory
On this paper


Hear the night wind blow
Hear the night wind blow
Hear it gather strength as it whips across choppy ocean waters
With ships lurching and swaying in its wake
Hear it swirl over a weather-beaten shore
Hear it cross muddy ploughed fields
Hear it push its rain drenching clouds
Over a bleak moorland ridge

Blow, blow mighty shrieking wind!
Pluck the dying leaves from swaying autumn trees and
Throw them near and far in furious whirlwind eddies

Pluck the slates from farmhouse roofs and
SMASH them onto the cobble stoned farmyard below

Pluck the wooden farm gate from its hinges and
THROW it against a dry-stone wall

Pluck the scarecrow from the ground and
HURL it into a distant whispering hedgerow

Blow, oh blow, mighty strengthening gale
Blow with a frenzied, awesome fury
Blow you noisy herald of a chill, leaden winter
Tell of snows and floods yet to come
Strike terror into the hearts of proud humanity
Show what a hurricane storm can do

Listen to the cattle lowing in the field
Hear the bleats of frightened sheep
Note how the horses neigh and paw at the ground,
Galloping this way and that in equestrian panic
Even the pigs squeal loudly in protest
From inside a darkened farm kitchen a dog barks wildly
With even the cat sitting upright in its basket
Ears pricked up
Attentive to the howling onrush


A tree is plucked from its roots
And flung onto the ground like a broken matchstick

The wind catches overhanging cables
Causing them to emit a high-pitched hum

A chain beats against a metal gate post

An old plastic bag
Is blown hither and thither
High, then low then high again

The door of a lonely and abandoned farmhouse
Swings forlornly to and fro
Echoing monotonously through the night
Repeatedly banging, banging, banging
Against its frame

Twigs are torn away
Like human arms in a bomb explosion

Branches bend backward in abject submission
Before the wind’s all encompassing majesty

An old television aerial
Tumbles down into a muddy farm yard

Soon to be joined by a fallen chimney pot

Something has smashed through
A greenhouse window

A car is buffeted along
A winding country lane

At sea, waves pile upwards
As if pulled by an invisible hand
Only to disintegrate into a fermenting, foaming fury
As they hurl themselves against a sodden shore

The lighthouse lantern blinks steadily on
Warning the ships of the razor-sharp rocks
Lurking beneath this camouflage
Of white foam

Inside his buffeted outpost
The coastguard looks through
His binoculars
But can see nothing
His radar screen alone tracing the
Forlorn ships trapped by the storm

With a plopping sound
Chunks of muddy cliff
Drop into the churning, seething sea
And the coastline reluctantly retreats once more

The gale continues with an unabated, relentless intensity

Another large wave crashes against the shore

Indoors people huddle in their beds
Waiting anxiously for the storm to pass
Listening with straining ears to every unwarranted noise
A dustbin lid is thrown to the ground

Wooden rafters creak ominously in the wind


Another tree is plucked from its roots
And hits the earth

Outside the temperature falls
As sleeting rain
Ricochets like tiny meteorites off
A tightly closed bedroom window
Puddles grow into pools and then small lakes
Filling fields and country roads in an unwanted baptism

Hear the night wind blow
Nothing can stop it
Nothing can halt its progress
Nothing can thwart its tempestuous advance

Onward it goes
Gusting furiously towards a neon lit city
Sixty miles inland

Do not trifle with its ways
Do not resist its relentless course
Do not fight this ferocious beast of the air
Lest you be tossed aside like a broken rag doll

Hear the chill wind blow
As it sweeps onward toward a midnight horizon
Leaving colossal airborne destruction in its wake


Part 1

I saw a nation near total collapse
…near total collapse

Arctic winds blew hard from Northern Siberia
…from Northern Siberia

Dropping a white blizzard shroud
…white blizzard shroud

Gridlocked roads were covered in wet slushy ice
…wet slushy ice

Trapping motorists, needing rescuing by hard-pressed police
…by hard-pressed police

Having to spend the night in cramped overnight shelters
…cramped overnight shelters

Part 2

Many city and country schools had to remain closed all day
…closed all day

A February ice age having halted our transport system
…our transport system

Shivering TV reporters covering the scene from gale-blown motorway bridges
…gale-blown motorway bridges

Gently mocked by colleagues reporting from snug, warm studios
… snug, warm studios

Laughing children eagerly throwing white balls of snow
…balls of snow

Their play marking a return to lost childhood innocence
…lost childhood innocence

Four guilty bankers grovelling before a parliamentary ‘Select Committee’
…parliamentary ‘Select Committee’

Their self-serving apologies so utterly meaningless
…so utterly meaningless

Their negligent folly having brought a bitter economic freeze
…bitter economic freeze

Gloomy economists trapped by inclement weather inside an ice-bound Oslo Hotel
…ice-bound Oslo Hotel

Along with bankers, analysing a global financial crisis
…global financial crisis

But unable to plan concerning any possible remedy
…any possible remedy

Part 3

Newly unemployed looking for jobs that no longer exist
…no longer exist

Their mortgage payments already badly in arrears
…badly in arrears

No longer able to afford basic necessities
…afford basic necessities

Will this economic winter ever come to an end?
…to an end?

Which one of us can hope to answer this question?
…answer this question?

All the relevant indicators show a serious decline
…a serious decline

Financial reporters gleefully state how bad everything is
…bad everything is

The whole world banking system is near total collapse
…near total collapse

Having caused Britain’s bitterly hard gridlocked winter
…hard gridlocked winter