Contrasts sharp as the bitter wind appear
When winter's coat settles on Bishopdale.
Straight hedges straighten and bent branches bow
More in hard outline against frost-white ground.
The trees, stripped naked in the autumn winds,
Now spread stark silhouettes against the sky
And black-faced ewes are framed against fresh snow
As they descend where fodder may be found.
The lapwing too, moves down from near the crag
To join gull, rook and crow foraging fields
Below, where ground is not too hard for beak
To break and even roe deny their fear
To feed when hunger drives them from the Rigg,
And tracks of fox near scattered feathers prove
That there are those who thrive when days are bleak
And frosts too hard for some small birds to bear.
Above the fields, the scars of ancient walls
Run in straight lines directly up the fell,
Drawing the eye into a grey-white sheet,
To where the Dale's horizon line should be.
But ground and cloudbank merge when winter falls,
And on the fell at this harsh time of year,
You could believe that earth and heaven meet,
Out there beyond as far as you can see.