Derwent Delight Poetry
Whatstandwell to Cromford
A palette of mellow rainbows,
Freshness of anxiety stripping air,
Crackle of children’s footsteps.
Rejuvenation of historic cottages,
Dysfunctional railway lines,
Jaw breaking snack bars,
Fluffy ice cream, with a nutty wafer cone.
A swan like canal boat,
Dogs drying off on benches,
Tangy local cheese and chutneys.
No houses will be built,
No plastic in the river,
Let all take its course,
The natural pull forwards, is the only way to go.
By Alexandra Smith
Water, water, over weir, human race, to think,
infinite fluid energy, via sluices, mill races,
iron wheels like huge clock faces,
absent hands are in hot places,
working days passing, pausing,
briefly, for lunch, over twelve hours
percussive, repetitive beat,
percussive, repetitive beat,
‘women, children, pliant and docile’,
iron skeletal spinning machines,
percussive, repetitive beat,
high volume, intense heat,
heavy tasks, cotton bales,
weaving (not dodging) muscular males.
Cyclical, rhythmic winding and guiding,
workers dreamed in bursts of sleep,
seemingly infinite threads machined,
mills and homes were close to keep.
‘O’ Level Geography, 1984,
features of a Derbyshire valley
relating to industrial and social change.
River Derwent, fast-flowing, constant power,
paper, cotton, corn,
Cromford Canal, 1790s, slow and steady,
cargo, night and morn.
Turnpike road, crushed bright limestone, 1820,
travellers, traders, tolls, tales, plenty,
The Midland Railway, 1840, shiny iron rails,
‘the masses’ at weekends, ice creams and ales.
River, canal, road and railway.
Threads weaving their way through Cromford,
crossroads of circumstance.
© Andrew Martin
Hot as hell, wedged in my leather seat,
Making stockings that cling. I man
Machines with a rhythm that
Pulls me under. Clink, clink, clink,
silk spills between metal lines
To delight our refined customers.
My life loops and curls, runaway, like the
Gush of water thundering into itself.
By Becky Deans
The East Mill Speaks to Me
Graciously goading the tests of time
Belper’s silent East Mill speaks to me
Dogged. Determined. Defiant
Handsome heritage and history
Once purposeful, productive, progressive
Inspiring inventions and brave pioneers
Chaotic clatter, chatter, commotion
Packed with people for hundreds of years
The beams and the bales and the bobbins
The ‘Jenny’, the ‘Mule’, ‘Loom’ and ‘Gin’
Carding and twisting, shuttles, and spindles,
Winding the wealth, the workforce would spin
Resplendent, retaining her radiance
A structure that shaped skyline sights
Resilient and regal. Redundant
As she faces her flawed final fight
At the core of the great Revolution
Merchants made mighty from cotton
Now windows no longer frame faces
Facade failing, forlorn and forgotten
Rustic red brick and reflections
Of her industrially glorious past
The hardworking heartbeat of history
Like its people – built strong to last
Dutifully dominating the Derwent
This magnificent, majestical mill
Deserves recognition and restorative justice
There’s mill life in this proud lady still
Precious and patiently waiting
To find what her future will be
Preserve and protect her posterity
Belper’s silent East Mill speaks to me
By Carol Brewer
High Hills #2
High hills, purple heather, golden gorse.
Where curlews pipe and cold wind blows.
By quiet lea, deep limestone dale
wherein the noble Derwent flows.
Red brick monolith louring large.
Monumental they of all that’s left.
leat and launder
with warp and weft.
Once hooter wailed shifts to hurried feet
rebounded town, the streets, the hills.
Rapacious gates combing, carding lives
in clattering halls of Derwent Mills.
Of them that in its shadow dwelt
or thereby to their labours clove?
Hardy homespun they, alike their kin
tougher fabric than on those looms was wove.
Time flows as water o’er a wheel.
As raptors nest atop silent solitude
where once was weaver, warp and weft.
Still high hills, purple heather, golden gorse.
No hurried feet by limestone dale or lea.
Still curlews pipe, still cold wind blow
as Derwent flows untroubled to the sea.
By D.E. Siddon
Praise the Lord
Praise the God of all creation,
Who shines in the golden sunset skies,
In fleetways of orange flourishes.
When clouds scud across the valley
His voice is heard in the howling wind.
Beams of sunlight shine onto golden leaves
On the Chevin path, through the trees.
The deep Derwent, roaring as it floods,
Horseshoe weir, water tumbling over, impressive.
Seagulls lined up on the boom,
Geese, swans on the banks
Of the river gardens, waiting
For their provision of food.
The Coppice brook flowing through,
Twisting, trickling, tumbling.
Follow through to Wyver Lane,
Sheep grazing peacefully in their fields.
Herons, cormorants on the pools,
More secretive, beautiful, treasured view,
Elusive like the deer and the giant tortoise.
With the ponies on Pinchom Hill,
Highland cattle on the slopes,
Grazing cattle chewing cud,
Viewing the windmill sails capturing the whispering wind.
Over it all the Mill, dominating red character,
Where men, women, children went to work.
Towering, historic, bygone era.
Old houses, cottages, cobbled streets.
The railway dug in a cutting, underneath
Old bridges, where people look down
Upon the trains, this feat of man’s engineering.
Solid stone houses, modern housing estates;
Interesting shops and the ginger cat,
Who owns it all proudly, his free spirit,
Not owned, but owning it all.
The memories, stone of names,
Soldiers past, with soldiers present
Gather to remember the fallen.
The cemetery with old gnarled trees,
Tombs, graves, some forgotten,
Some remembered in the mists of time.
Worship places, some in full view,
Some up high, towers, spires, pillars,
And some hidden, not known they are there.
We worship you, God of all, who made this.
As we wend our way through footpaths, stiles,
Cobbled streets, ginnels, jitties, twitchells,
To busy roads with big lorries,
Dog walkers, ramblers, shoppers,
Skateboarders, crazy youth cyclists,
Mobility scooters trundling along,
The bin men halting traffic.
I will sing to you Lord all my life.
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to Him,
As I rejoice in the Lord
In this wonderful place I live.
By Dinah Dawson
Walking near Cromford
The way escapes upwards
through green-filtered light,
past rough-rocked outcrops
curtained with hart’s-tongue fern,
till the path opens
on never-ploughed pasture
where there’s Shining Crane’s-bill, Lady’s Mantle
and three slow inches of smooth black slug
oozing through the grass.
An age behind the horses
burdened with mined lead and silver,
we go on up the jagging-track,
watching the stone-packed walls for fossils,
for the bones that built this landscape,
to high bare hills, blue harebells and wild thyme,
to the castle-crowned view,
softened by mist and distance.
The flower-names jingle like charms:
Alpine Pennycress, Mountain Pansy,
Sweet Cicely, with its aniseed smell –
abruptly the foot-path skirts a quarry’s clatter,
tilts us down to Cromford, to tarmac, traffic
and all the good and bad of Arkwright’s legacy.
By Emilyn O’Dowd
River, what say you?
Travelling through peaks, dales, valley and wash,
Hemmed in by woodland and steep limestone crops,
If you could speak, through your burbles and boil,
What might we learn of ourselves and our toil?
River, what formed you so long and so wise?
All that you have for us, yet to be seen.
Bleaklow’s outpouring, birthing your stream,
Tributaries empty to broaden your beam,
Amber & Ashop, Bentley and Hood
Weaving the strength of a fine Gabardine.
In Cumbria, Yorkshire, Tyne & Wear
There are other contenders,
But none of them lend us,
This feeling of home,
A sense that you meant us, to share in your life,
Times tranquil and torrid, paths hidden and clear.
The rapids, the raft, the colours, the graft
The warp and the weft of which you’re bereft.
The arches and crossings, the fords and the bridges
The promontories, landings and fields at the edges,
The rods with floats bobbing, by your banks right and left.
Our towns and our villages growing beside you,
Testing the waters for signs of their future.
Learning to give and to take from your life?
This confluence stirring a mutual respect.
Jedediah, Samuel, Richard and John, they made you their muse,
But they spun you a line, took you to task, through the wear and the sluice,
Through the gears to the loom, Engineers in their prime!
They thought they had mastery, but deep in the flow,
The mechanical advantage was yours all the time.
Not tamed but stayed strong, through the work that you did,
You pressed through the wheels, and you churned through the race,
Swirling in eddies, leaving your trace, from the heights of the Peak to the flats of the city,
In the history books, you’re taking your place.
You pass through the valley as the eldest of three,
Road, rail and river, creating a twill.
A familiar entwining of stone, steel and water
Advancing from cottage to industrial mill
When all’s said and done,
When it comes to this river
We did not create,
It was nature that wrought her.
Stirred by the depths, of your secret I’m speaking,
In the rush of your current, determined to glimpse it;
These words though, too shallow, not fit to portray you,
So I’ll stand by your side, and ask ‘River, what say you?’
By Gareth Greenwood
Inside the Tree on the Left
I am twisted root and branch, overlooking
the land for centuries
each ring has grown, as each stone slab is lain
for a foundation to a revolution
the water has been diverted
to power a wheel, that turns
with each sprouting of fresh green leaves.
grey stone replacing the brown leaves
shed by the winter.
They all move as one
from the breaking of dawn
to the sinking twilight
as they have tired for this day
pushing their limbs past use to awaken
and repeat with each ring I gain.
Now they are slow over my watch.
Some come to visit the everlasting structure
some look upon the green weeds
through the cracks in the grey stone.
By Imogen Dakin
Belper Mill, moody, malevolent, magnificent
Standing silent, so still…
Red bricks rising riotously above the rooftops
Saying, ‘I am Here’:
A bygone age, admonishing and atmospheric.
Peregrines perched perfectly but precariously
Feed their chicks;
Photographers flashing, shutters whirring
Focusing, freezing in time fascinating moments.
Tourists traipsing tirelessly, ticking off
A Top 10 sight from their list –
Christ Church bells calling
A cacophony of cheer celebrating Christ.
Christmas trees creating
Celestial shadows in every aisle.
Aesthetical arches offering absolution
Accessible to all
Stained glass reflecting the sun’s steely glow
Soaring skyward, sanctimonious yet sanguine.
River Gardens – green and lush;
Glowing glorious and golden in the sun’s deepening light.
The bandstand – beating the baritone
Broadcasting and bring joy;
Baccate buds bracing themselves against an icy barrage.
Children calling, clapping, cheering
Clattering feet and cries of play.
The Derwent, dragging driftwood;
Deafening, deathly dark, yet full of life
Gushing and gurgling gleefully,
Grabbing garbage in its path.
Ducks dabble distractedly in murky waters
Mindful of the many men and women meandering by
Swans sailing serenely on the surface
Melancholic, misanthropic yet majestic.
Belper Mill, baroque, bohemian, baronial:
Standing silent, so still…
Red bricks rising riotously above the rooftops
Saying, “I am Here”.
By Jacqui Davis ©
Reborn (Aqueduct Cottage)
Two hundred years and more I’ve stood
Beside this old canal…
When I was built, ‘one up, one down’
A cottage quite banal
I housed the keeper of the lock…
I kept him safe and warm
He worked so hard to help the boats…
To serve ‘The Leawood Arm’
As years passed by more rooms were built…
As families grew in size
Tough life for them was hard and tough
They lived in paradise
I wrapped myself around them all
To give them ‘home sweet home’
A simple lifestyle ‘nature filled’…
No need to ever roam
Time passes by and things progress
So ways of life must change…
The day came… I was left alone…
I felt so sad and strange
I though, as people wandered by
‘What would become of me?’
I sheltered ramblers for a while
Forlorn… unloved… empty…
Because nobody cared for me
I felt invisible…
My roof collapsed… my heart in shreds…
I was so miserable
So silently, I stood and dreamed
Of happy times gone by…
No longer could I offer warmth
Or keep a walker dry
I thought that I was at death’s door…
But then… a miracle!
A chance to be reborn again!
As part of life’s cycle
I will become a place to learn…
To cherish… love… preserve…
My little piece of paradise…
Lea Wood Nature Reserve
When I am once again complete
I’ll stand so strong and tall…
My heart will beat with life renewed
Within these old stone walls
My visitors will get to know
The history of this place…
I’ll serve ‘The Leawood Arm’ once more
With pride, and love and grace
By Julie Sheldon
The Tenth Lady of Stanton Moor
Within the 4000 year-old Nine Ladies Stone Circle,
a tenth stone, lying flat, was found in 1977
She’s the one we don’t see
in the crowd, under our
feet, beneath the moss,
circled by her admirers,
surrounding a princess,
wrapped in furs, bronze
amulets on her wrists.
They prepare her lovely face
with dyes of woad, yarrow,
gall and madder, and wash
her feet in the valley rivers
of the Derwent and Wye,
bear her cross their flow
in a bear-skin harness,
to this gateway of blue sky.
A space cut in birch and lime
to worship the sun, rising
from its green bed only for
her, the chieftain’s favourite.
Her eyes touched by the rays,
a pledge of Spring’s arrival,
instead strikes her blind and
lost, for four thousand years.
Mad with grief, the king orders
the nine maids to stand vigil,
and if they show a back to her,
let them turn to stone.
By Ken Evans
How magnificent it must have looked in its heyday,
A cathedral of commerce, a temple dedicated to the philosophy of Adam Smith,
Erected brick-on-brick by the banks of the brim-full Bonsall Brook.
A workhouse with pay for surrendered souls;
‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ but cannot live without it.
Too often, the freedoms of the farm fell short with failed crops,
The empty larder and the starving children recast the idyll;
The manufactory as prison, dismissed as idle cant,
Admiration heaped upon the bold inventor.
Such praise is not to be derided or denied
But let us not forget the cost and the price exacted
From the forgotten factory-floor-pioneers who paid it.
By Kenneth Franklin
The morning mist blanketed sounds, blurred sights and dampened colours as I trod the sodden fields and newly-made desire lines.
Traffic noise diminished and the river became dominant, hushing along, punctuated by bird alarms as my dog flushed past.
Swathed in mist, the Chevin seemed older; stone houses took on a significance, like immovable sentries to the past.
History held its breath around me, and I remembered the blue plaque on Samuel Slater’s cottage, and stood reading it again.
How he took Arkwright’s water wheel secrets to a new life in America, becoming the father of their Industrial Revolution.
Quite a boast from this quiet house breasting the hillside, where he would have seen clearly the mill in the valley, even through the January mists of a day like this.
As I walked down the road, I fell to imagining which way he would have trodden on his short journey to work.
Down the Chevin if it was not too muddy underfoot?
Or would he have paced quickly past the watermill and its languid pond, the ducks and geese quacking and hissing underfoot, a glimpse perhaps of a pretty miller’s daughter putting him in mind of a companion to share his adventure to America?
Or perhaps on the way home, wearied and deafened by the clack and whir of the busy machinery, he would have called in at the Strutt farm to buy some creamy milk, still warm from the cows, to quench his thirst.
Either way, his path would converge at Bridgefoot where the stone mill commanded.
His feet would have joined the hundreds of clogged feet clattering to work.
Here though Samuel Slater’s desire lines took him in an altogether different direction, away from Belper and towards history.
Slipping back down the hill myself, I allowed myself to fancy I might tread in his imprint on a misty day like this.
By Louise Dunning
A Prayer Uttered on Mill Channel
Up with the lark
Down the Mill Channel,
From the farthest Laund
Through the gritstone ginnel,
A passage of stone, where once was tall grass,
A path to the future, a path to the past.
A shortcut, a jitty, dry-stone walls either side,
Built to funnel the workers gushing through like the tide,
Like a wave to the mill, the industrial master, where they
Hurried to work for survival, food and shelter,
A promise, a framework to replace the common one,
The one of the past, long-lost and long-gone.
Huge cogs forged of iron drew workers closer,
Grand feats of engineering built by men’s labour,
Builders whose cut hands made water courses to power
The axles that forced human hands to move faster;
To drive the teasels that carded the cotton,
Sputtering hot, noisy gushes of steam
To bring forth this great dream of progress.
Her grandmother was poor, a weaver, lived by the sun.
All the long day, she’d sit, hand on wool, greasy and spun,
Silent, but for the clacking of the loom, her tuneless hum,
And the droning of a bluebottle that tickled the cow’s nose
As it munched on hay raked from the common along the row,
On the path above the marsh,
Where curlews and lapwings nestled in grass,
While skylarks sang high above the wet as the sun’s time slowly passed.
Up with the lark
Down the channel racing,
From sunrises to 5.47am clock ticks fast,
The birdsong now at her back.
Run, busy, run, keep up!
Breath moves hot in rhythmic bursts from her mouth,
Wet as it condenses on her lips, the cold tip of her nose.
Over Marsh Lane, past the windmill,
Wind of Windy Gap swallows, catches in her throat,
As down the Chevin-facing hill she blows,
Onto Swinney Lane.
Here, soft snorts and snuffles, breathing steam into the low sunlight,
Cause her to pause, and, for one moment, sense cold clammy skin,
And the hot, heavy cloth her body is encased within,
Pressing on her belly as the air goes out and in.
(Here could she linger forever.
She could Dalley, and look at the hills around her,
And sing to her lover, a song as light as laughter.
Or she could Grandmother-sit, in shady hovel weaving,
Flies lazily humming, larks above her singing).
But reverie and melody, like birdsong, is instantly
Drowned out by the great wheel’s call,
And, merging with the others, she rushes down the cobbled passage
To the Mill.
We amble now down the hill with quiet steady feet
Mill Channel now the broad Mill Street,
Unstoppable Mill now stopped still,
Endless relentless force now truly ended.
A single bird call cuts through the silent street,
Echoes past the houses all painted and neatly kept.
A winters day where coats are taken off
As we walk, skin chaffing in the over-dressed heat.
The mill’s clock stopped long ago,
But a different, more urgent, clock ticks louder now
As the frame of the seasons gradually detaches
Warm winters, wet summers, birdsong in spurts and snatches.
So I utter this prayer; a prayer spoken now but meant for past and future,
Meant for all the unseen beings
Whose fluttering hands and hearts and wings were
Broke to power this dream, this Mill, this now-broken, structure:
May all the rushing and running cease,
May all that was enclosed, be set free,
May all that was enslaved, be unbound
May all that was lost and forgotten, be found,
May all of the songs that were drowned in the noise
And all of the people and all of their truths:
May they be restored to themselves again.
May the land belong to itself again.
May we find our way to ourselves again.
May we find a way to be whole again.
By Maggie Braley
A First to the World
Pause observe the silence
The building breathes a sigh
The old custodians did not have a chance to say goodbye
For whom it may concern
Please take your time to open one by one
Lifting & loading
Doors act as powder puffs
Every movement made, sifts dust through the air
Landing where no one no longer cares
Coffin like shapes of grey where pictures were once hung
Broken shards of glass hanging like shrouds to harbour the memories of the people, now gone
Whispers of movements
Without furniture, the rooms are bare, without purpose
Feet astride, a belligerent child that won’t go away
Tempered steel a reminder of people just like me, of people just trying to get by
Origami roofs dip diving in front of your eyes
Voluminous shapes cast negative shapes to putty skies
Lines straight, unlike natures own
As if a fist to the world.
By Michelle Davies
Ode to Strutt's North Mill
Silence echoes eerily through stone pillars and redundant machines
standing still, forlorn ghosts of the industrial revolution,
tombstones inscribed with names – Spinning Jenny, Ribbed Stocking, Water-frame
Bobbins and spindles of cotton are gathering dust,
no longer shooting back and forth or turning round and round.
Everywhere is deathly quiet, sounds of silence abound.
No longer does the relentless clickety clack of machinery
bring the mill to life, nor does the bell ring out in the town
or the water wheel creak and groan monotonously.
But stone mason’s marks on water-damaged pillars hewn from local quarries
remain, with ancient walls of hand-made bricks once absorbing aromas
of cotton, grease and burning tallow,
now smelling of the river, its energy vibrating down the valley,
cascading down weirs, frothing turbulently round sluice gates
transforming electricity into the national grid.
And the mill girls who once worked here may still be seen flitting around
appearing, disappearing like illusions of the mind
to haunt unsuspecting visitors.
By Rachel Kenning
River - Ambergate to Matlock
Where are you going, what stories will you tell?
Silver serpent slithering chameleon like through the valley
reflecting foliage from arched branches overhead.
Aromas of damp earth and garlic, balsam, rotting vegetation
by rough grey stone arches on the sturdy bridge.
I hear you rushing gushing racing tumbling rapidly
as you head towards your destination,
a forceful roaring lion, ever changing silver serpent.
Where are you going, what stories will you tell?
By Rachel Kenning
Long river churns deep water.
Fast current spins new wheels.
Free flow begins – fine windows,
walls and doors.
Great spaces still to span
till ingenuity of man
sees forests fall
to furnish foot-thick floors.
Coins turns a page – long belts engage.
Rage shuttles – thrust and spin.
As loom slaves raise fine cotton dust
kids lip-read through the din.
One Empire grows… Then stumbles.
Recounts historic cost.
This brick wall mountain crumbles.
Old oak doors?
Warped… Or lost
By Rob Stevens
Hollowed ground beneath Groaning Tor
grumbles with the sound of gunpowder.
Dirty hands the size of dinner plates
grapple with muck and ore, shatter
the silence under Clatterway and
split the back of Cawdor Slack.
In they pour with muddy boots as
darkness fills their footprints,
disturbs their dreams. Wagons barrel
into Bolehill’s belly ablaze with torches,
filthy fingers slithering into the fissures,
and prising the hillside open; driven
by desire for Derbyshire’s heavy heart.
The rancid stink of tallow and sweat,
has the lead miners gagging in their
ducts and shafts as they slit glaucous
veins undisturbed since the earth’s birth.
Their violence sends a hillside’s tears
soughing down into Cromford, where
they begin a revolution of their own.
By Sian Tower
Searching for the Source of the Derwent
I envy winter for itself stillness. Its bare branches stand silent in the
woodland and mist dampens the birdsong. The sun leans closer to the ground and whispers light onto the surface of the reservoir. Frost holds the axis, squeezing it still, as though it has turned enough for one year.
We walk the veins of the Moor, determined to find the source of the one thing which still flows. I am unaware that these streams, this sponge, is the start of Derbyshire’s longest river. That, as I climb, I am scaling an origin story.
I expect a stop sign; the words ‘the end’ in the form of a pile of rocks, maybe a waterfall. Instead, I plunge waist deep into peat bog.
We laugh as you pull me out. And I, cold and shaking, am unaware I have time travelled throughout thousands of years. We turn back and drop down to the river. My body feels heavy as my feet squelch against my boots. I realise I have misjudged this landscape, this winter. Even stillness has a pulse.
I am beginning to understand that chiselling my figure into statues will bring me no peace. That my body is also a river, will continue to run, despite the dam of my arms. Even when I sit, eyes closed, legs crossed, I can hear my heartbeat, the in and out of my breath. No matter how I try, I cannot hold back the water.
By Sophie Sparham
A Derwent Landscape - Matlock to Cromford
Beneath a stone bridge where traffic rumbles
the sun-speckled Derwent gently tumbles.
Alongside the park, behind some shops
ever onward never stops.
Swirling round rocks where a dipper perches
bobbing its head as it frantically searches
for food amongst stones on the riverbed.
Out of the town now the current passes
reeds and sedges, tufts of grasses
where on the edges throng crowds of trees
rustling their skirts in the gentle breeze,
bedecked in greens of every hue
they sway and dance to the river’s tune.
Onwards and onwards the water flows
to the destination I’m sure it knows.
Round slalom poles it eddies and swirls
where colourful kayakers execute twirls
of their paddles, with confident ease,
to negotiate gates set below the trees.
Spewed from a cliff base cable cars high
climb limestone crags nearly touching the sky.
Through Matlock Bath with its tourists and hikers,
here Sunday’s tradition is gathering bikers
who stand chewing chips, in their old creaking leathers,
admiring each bike whatever the weather.
‘Luminations are famous on October nights
when small boats adorned with colourful lights
represent cars, space rockets and planes,
old paddle-steamers and chuffing trains.
Vast crowds gather to enjoy the sight
whilst fireworks set the skies alight.
Onwards t’wards Cromford and Arkwright’s Mills
which stand in the valley betwixt the hills
like giants on guard. They’re gazing down
at tourists arriving to visit the town,
thronging the courtyard, eating ice-cream…
so different from the historical scene.
Do the mills recall the frothing and churning
of the river enforcing the waterwheel’s turning
powering new-fangled machinery…
eighteenth cent’ry’s modern technology?
Do they compare the laughter and chattering
to the sound of clogs on cobblestones clattering,
or mobile phone’s continual ringing
to smacking of shuttles and water-frames spinning?
Do they love the river with its surface serene?
It’s a tranquil, idyllic and beautiful scene.
What of the valley in the Wintry dark
when the limestone crags loom rugged and stark?
When under the stone bridge the water crashes,
a torrent rages, like a monster thrashes,
threatening now to flood the park?
No dipper dipping the surface dark.
Trees now naked are shaking. They shiver,
bowing their heads to the surging river.
No kayakers now, no cable-cars clank
while this monstrous river munches the bank
devouring debris, swallowing grasses
as ever onwards it thunders and races,
gushing and rushing, turning and churning,
no longer lapping, just hitting and slapping.
There’s a wild, rough beauty in this landscape still,
its overseer the majestic mill.
Does it yearn for its old industrial past?
No… it’s happy to be retired at last!
By Terri Annables
View from River at Belper
Dammed! I flowed babbled, burbled
through this quiet wooded valley, rushing,
splashing, meandering, long before you came.
I brought clear crystal waters, teeming with fish,
you brought engineers well-practised in money-making,
cotton-spinning schemes, blue-print to build in the blink
of an eye: a dam, your oh-so-clever horseshoe weir
to seal my fate, cut me off, channel my life-blood
down mill race, through sluice gate to drive
your insatiable wheel.
Mill towers, taller than alder or willow,
blocked out the sun, sparkling shallows dulled,
turned fetid, ran into foaming discharge pools
fouled with dyes, detergents, oils. And the noise!
The mind-numbing throb of the spinning of cotton,
the quick-fire rap of the lightning-speed shuttle,
slap, slap, back and forth, back and forth,
hour after hour, Monday through Saturday
when it stops.
I flow ever onward, washing out years
of dirty cotton with ice melt, rain, natural springs.
Fresh water now courses the floor of this valley,
home to barbel, chub and fat brown trout,
backdrop to concerts, well-dressings,
picnics, boat trips, the feeding of ducks.
Strolling my banks, in your fine River Gardens,
do not be fooled by my current good nature,
for while I’m prepared to let bygones be bygones,
these waters, though dammed, still know
how to flood.
By Trish Kerrison