original lyrics

Small Pictures

© Richard Ridley

Small pictures carved in wood
With details oh so fine
Visions of our countryside
Engraved upon my mind

Just a boy at Cherryburn
Playing in the fields
The riverside, the Mickley moors,
The streams, the banks, the trees
His Father though him an idle boy
Who wasted all his time
Scribbling pictures on the floor
And hearth with chalk design

At fourteen years with no more school
A trade must soon be found
For twenty pounds apprentice fee
To Ralph Beilby he was bound

He trained him in engraving
Seven years of tasks mundane
On copper plate and boxwood block
Experience to gain

I see the finest pictures
In lines of black and white
And go down to the riverside
Where it’s peaceful just to think
There I see the images
That the artist must have seen
Inspired by all of nature
As Bewick must have been

I wrote this song in 1987 after a talk at Cherryburn by Frank Atkinson, the former Director of Beamish Museum. Cherryburn was Thomas Bewick’s childhood home. The scenery depicted in Bewick’s "vignettes" seemed very familiar. When I was young I walked the same river banks and fields with Uncle Tucker, a Pit Deputy from Mickley.—Richard

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