‘The Very End of Old Delph Will’ by Jean Atkin

All Saddleworth was plagued
by boggarts in those days.
Such beings stumbled by like woolsacks.
And they were wide as a lane and
their eyes were blazing dinner plates and they
were constantly likely to emit hot winds.

The country people are frightened to death
said Ammon Wrigley, folklorist.
Or they were, until that day in 1710
when Old Delph Will met his end
at a boggart summit in the Bakestone Pit.

He was attended there by the New Tame Fiend
and by Grange Bump; by the Slackcote Thrasher
and by Blater of Old Tame; by the Delph Hill
Baker and by the Griffin Factory Marr –
when a boggart brawl broke out and all
but two of them were killed.

Seven clergymen in black carried Old Delph
to the foot of Cobler’s Hill. They buried him deep,
in case he revived. And then the good people of Delph
planted a copse of sycamores over him, just
so their roots would keep him strapped down.
Watch and hear a film of Jean Atkin reading ‘The Very End of Old Delph Will’.
Jean Atkin‘s latest collection is How Time is in Fields (IDP, 2019). Her poetry has featured on BBC Radio 4 and is widely published. Two new pamphlets are due out during 2021. Twitter @Wordsparks