"Letters from Yorkshire" is a poem by the British poet Maura Dooley. In the poem, the speaker juxtaposes their modern lifestyle with the agrarian world of an acquaintance, with whom they exchange letters. These letters describe farming life and the natural world, which the speaker believes is "more real" than the speaker's own life of working indoors at a computer. Even as the poem highlights both the wonders and the harsh realities of working outdoors, it underlines the extent to which nature is missing from modern life, and how that void could create a feeling of unfulfillment.
In February, digging ...
... in the warmth.
It’s not romance, ...
... a blank screen.
Is your life ...
... path through snow.
Still, it’s you ...
... into an envelope.
So that ...
... the icy miles.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
Yorkshire Farms Photograph — This photo shows the kind of rural lifestyle made possible in Yorkshire, England, that the speaker of Dooley's poem envies. The accompanying photo gallery shows other photos from similar regions in England and the United Kingdom.
Maura Dooley's Life Story — The British Council's website offers biographical information about Dooley and her poetry.
Dooley's Favorite Poets — A transcription of a short interview with Dooley from the Forward Arts Foundation, in which she discusses how she became interested in poetry as well as the other poets she most admires.
Maura Dooley Out Loud — A YouTube video showing Maura Dooley reading her poetry in England in 2007.
1In February, digging his garden, planting potatoes,
2he saw the first lapwings return and came
3indoors to write to me, his knuckles singing
4as they reddened in the warmth.
5It’s not romance, simply how things are.
6You out there, in the cold, seeing the seasons
7turning, me with my heartful of headlines
8feeding words onto a blank screen.
9Is your life more real because you dig and sow?
10You wouldn’t say so, breaking ice on a waterbutt,
11clearing a path through snow. Still, it’s you
12who sends me word of that other world
13pouring air and light into an envelope. So that
14at night, watching the same news in different houses,
15our souls tap out messages across the icy miles.