York-based poet Robert Poet collaborated with the Trust on our Voicing the Hidden creative heritage project, from the walking tours in September 2021 to the live showcase event in January 2022. He has treated audiences throughout to multiple readings from his repertoire of locally-inspired poetry. Robert also produced an original poem inspired by St George’s Churchyard and the supposed grave of Dick Turpin, one of the stopping points on the heritage walks.
At The Unofficial Dick Turpin Dog-Training Facility
at the supposed site of the highwayman’s grave
On a leaden-grey York Wednesday
two women drill their pets in the ghost-church yard,
heaven’s gates bound shut with a spare dog-collar
lest pouncing pooches plot a prison-break.
You could say it’s sacrilegious, but hey –
why let the green and pleasant just go to waste-land?
Both owners and dogs take the Heritage Tour Group
in their stride: the women shout, the canines leap.
The past is more unknown than known, says the guide,
hopefully helpfully, and sure enough, in this old city
of steeples and walls and blue plaque recollections,
under everyday trainers and paws another local history lies,
dropped just yesterday by soldiers, servants, shoppers,
serfs, washerwomen, tradesmen, dreamers and drinkers –
coins with the profiles of emperors and queens that slipped
from slurring pockets, a slow, lost rainfall of nails,
hairpins, buttons, buckles, bottles, and various
plastics bound for immortality – silent as these graves
but ever-ready for rousing and resurrection
into new histories cobbled for tourists and citizens.
The Tour Group wanders, wondering Where are the dogs
of yesteryear? while at the far end of the plot,
beneath an upright stone, cunning Dick lies low,
bones deep in dirt and legend, maybe.
You can find out more about Robert and his poetry here.
Click here to view the other poems produced from the heritage tours.