A poem a day: A fearful precipice

Today’s prompt is a bit of a classic creative writing starter: take a line from a poem and craft another poem from it – a poetic sculpture from the raw material.  After some thought – do I use a poem from William Baron, Edwin Waugh, Sam Bamford? – I’ve gone with a snippet from an “adventure” detailed in A Tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe written between 1724 – 1727 as it is quite a handy piece of place writing and historical account. (I think this escapade is from volume 3 but I’d have to check!)  After whinging about the weather, Defoe discovered how resilient his new Rochdale acquaintances were; they “had an extraordinary way of mixing the warm and the cold very happily” and, reading between the lines, that evening he partook of some of the plentiful “good ale” from the region.  The next morning, as the group ascended the steep hill up to Summit, they found themselves in the midst of a thundering snow storm and became disorientated as thick snow covered the track.  Defoe and his entourage perceived “a fearful precipice on one side, and uneven ground on the other”and nearly turned back.  (Perhaps, if they had, more beer may have been imbibed in order to sooth the nerves.) However, one of his servants reached the top of the hill and saw that the way into Yorkshire had “a plain way down on to the other side”.  Defoe’s tour continued with no harm coming to any of his party from the changeable weather of South Lancashire.

Having experienced a sudden, extensive, downpour on Blackstone Edge – on a date of all things! –  there was a similar element of “will we survive this?!” as dark, sharp juts of millstone grit became waterfalls.  We climbed up rough rocks, soaked through, hugged onto the trig point and each other.


A fearful precipice

There was no track

on the windblasted tops

and no way back.


Brushed grass, flat hair,

blond strands around black rocks,

rain began to pour


down the Edge side.

Too heavy for our coats

the water slides


into fabric,

soaks gaps between zip teeth.

Everything wet


even our socks.

We find the white trig point

four feet above,


so we clamber

the abrasive  surface

scramble over


the pitted black.

Rough on jeans, rough on knees;

we may well scar.


Look, there’s the bed,

Robin Hood stayed one night

on these bleak hills


dreamed of Marion

perhaps. Or all the ways

to get down again.



race you to the bottom;

you’ll buy me beer,


perhaps I’ll stay,

if we leave here alive.

This precipice


we stand upon,

this was how we were then,

how we are now.




10 thoughts on “A poem a day: A fearful precipice

  1. Pingback: Day Twenty-Six
  2. My first trip to your site, via NaPoWriMo. I’ve looked at a few of your latest poems and like their rhythm.At the moment I can’t find anything about you, the author. You can find me at http://www.wordswords-moirag.blogspot.co.uk and I’ve been successful too this month, this year, at completing a (draft) poem a day whereas last time I tried I only lasted 2 days! So well done you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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