York in Poetry: Entering the City

Posted on 25 November 2012 | Poem

When I entered first
the city of York
I came as a bishop
ready to be called back
to London to lose my head.
When I entered first
the royal city of York
I arrived by boat:
Queen Phillipa beside me -
her child-hand reposed in mine.

When first I destroyed
the Minster Library
with its volumes of Alcuin,
I built twin fortresses -
the tidal Ouse between.

When first I passed
through the city gates
after our glorious victory
someone threw filth on my head
I ordered them killed – then thought better.

When first I stepped off
the train, I said, ‘I’m going
to make – in this cinder-filled town -
my fortune and have a statue
of myself raised – when dead’.

- Paul Sutherland