A Dream of Joseph Skipsey
A thick mist cleared and a dream took flight,
A viking ship sailed into the night;
Waterfalls roared down hills of pine,
As I held the prow in the starlight’s shine.
With Joseph Skipsey by my side,
I felt his awe as his eyes grew wide.
And when he turned his face with magnetic force
I recognised a true child of the north.
In a voice reared in the Northumbrian twang,
He opened his heart through the songs he sang.
I listened well as his stories rang,
To the sound of toil 'neath the pit wheel’s clang.
His simple songs spoke straight and true,
Of the collier lad and the strife he knew;
Of love and loss and laughter too,
With great pathos to see him through.
As he watched the wee birds flying by,
I saw a tear escape his eye;
This sensitive soul with poetical mind,
In a solid body of the labouring kind.
Then he spoke of happy childhood days,
When he was wrapped in nature’s ways:
From this Rustic Bard lilting words did flow,
Of the robin, the finch and the mighty crow.
His simple songs from nature grew,
To praise the glory and wondrous hue
Of the Thistle and the Nettle, many flowers too;
Butterflies, moths and the morning dew.
With his thirst for knowledge driving him on,
Likewise his fondness for music and song,
He would labour long hours in his room,
Just as he’d done in the darkling gloom.
The world was a mirror through which he gazed
With a seer’s skill into clearer days,
And when I awoke in the daylight’s glare,
I still felt his spirit standing there.
His simple songs spoke to me
And told me of a destiny,
Rich in hope and running free
Down untrod paths we rarely see.
© 2017 Whippet Records
Copyright Control MCPS/PRS
In 2017, Gary was commissioned by Northern Voices Community Projects to write a song for 'The Pitmen Poet of Percy Main', a book celebrating the life and work of Joseph Skipsey, published to mark the 185th anniversary of his birth in the colliery village of Percy Main on 17th March 1832. The song he wrote was 'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey'.
An EP release of Joseph Skipsey songs was initially tentatively planned, to include all of the above songs, together with a number of Joseph Skipsey's own poems set to music by Gary but since then, Gary's Joseph Skipsey songs have become part of Gary and Helen's 'Northern Grit' collaborative project.