Four Northumbrian Rants

Four Northumbrian Rants walked in the winter of 2016/17 (after John Cage (1, 2)).

Rant 1
Step 1
Strong wind,
a stiff gate into a field of sheep,
sparse hawthorn hedge,
distant chimney smoke.

Step 2
Estate land,
up a hillside above an ash plantation,
hilltop caledonian pines,
cows, sheep.

Step 3
Beet field,
wind turbines,
concrete bridge.

Step 4
Dry stone walls, a ridged track,
a shooting pond,
kestrel, crows, harnessed tup,
low sun, light fading.

Rant 2
Step 1
Hands frozen, hurting, cold,
flushed roe deer, hare, pheasant,
cold mist sits on the ground,
bare branches stark against the sky.

Step 2
Cold; long undulating cloud,
trees line away to the horizon,
goose, curlew,
sheep pasture, electric fence.

Step 3
Frost hollow of winter wheat,
divided fields, lost margins,
gunshots, pheasants,
prints of deer and heron.

Step 4
Long walk in, difficult,
wind low, sound carries,
moorland frozen,
out of time.

Rant 3
Step 1
Low wind along the field edge,
skylarks in the stubble, crow flies over,
gun shots, planes,
lichen on hawthorn.

Step 2
Road, houses, hedge, gate,
horse field, fence,
in the valley down to the river,
three roe deer.

Step 3
End of the road,
golf course, stubble field, mud,
power lines,
telegraph lines.

Step 4
Wide sky edged with cloud,
hills nudge the skyline,
pheasants, cows, horses,
sheep, sun-etched onto fields.

Rant 4
Step 1
Frozen field,
crows and jackdaws call,
still air, cold,

Step 2
Hard walking,
no rhythm, disorientated,
grouse, hares,
rounded hillsides under a wide sky.

Step 3
Flat horizon under grey cloud,
roadside fences,
tracks over grass moorland,
shell of a wrecked tank.

Step 4
Impenetrable plantation,
deadened sound,
vista of trees,

  1. Cage J. 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs: For Performer(s) or Listener(s) or Record Maker(s). New York: Henmar Press; 1977.
  2. Cage J. 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs. Rolling Stone. 1977 October 6th.