Ted Hughes’ poem “Heptonstall Old Church” has been set to music by acclaimed acoustic folk singer-songwriter Milly Hirst.
You can hear this lovely, haunting track here. Perhaps Heptonstall’s festival committee might like to consider her?
Heptonstall.org’s correspondent is musically illiterate, but this is what alphabetbands has to say about it:
“We’ve spoken before about the divine sounds of Milly Hirst and the bewitchingly delicate songs she sings. Such is the level of elegant beauty that she exudes, it’s worth talking about her some more, especially as she recently released a new song, “Heptonsall Old Church” which is as heavenly and soothing as anything she has done so far.
“Based on the Ted Hughes poem of the same name, “Heptonstall…” is like a countryside walk at dusk. It’s as tranquil and beautiful as dwindling light flickering amongst the woodland while the noise of the city is a distant, forgotten sensation replaced instead with gentle guitar picks, graceful strings and backing vocals (courtesy of Jessica Wilson). Serenity abounds as the majestic sights of rolling fields and farmland unfurls before you, a line of trees on the horizon silhouetted by the faint amber glow of the sunset behind (making the artwork choice particularly apt). A warm fire and steaming mugs of tea or chocolate await but, like when listening to Milly sing, you can’t leave; you must stay and take in the beauty of the view one more time.
“She remains the only person we have ever seen literally silence a room when singing, to hold a man so drunk he can’t stand in raptures as he listens, understandably muted by the mesmerising beauty of the sounds filling the room. Just like everyone else who hears her play then.”
The poem reads:
A great bird landed here.
Its song drew men out of rock,
Living men out of bog and heather
Its song put a light in the valley
And harness on the long moors.
Its song brought a crystal from space
And set it in men’s heads.
Then the bird died.
Its giant bones
Blackened and became a mystery.
The crystal in men’s heads
Blackened and fell to pieces.
The valleys went out
The moorlands broke loose.