When you sit by the mute, still, mill race,
With swallows swooping low over a surface
Like glass, itís easy to miss the waterís whispers.
I donít mean the oozing and splashes,
The swish of the fish or the wind in the rushes,
I mean the tales of long ago when weir
And sluice meant a spuming spate of power,
A circuit of cog, belt, loom and jenny,
A revolution of the water wheels,
A pandemonium of 5 valley hammer-noise.
I laughed then in the face of precocious steam,
Bade weavers leave their homes to come to me,
Sprung cycles of boom and workhouse bust
To make any modern credit crunch seem very small beer,
Told workmen to form combinations,
Threw masters in the cut and felt the red coatsí
Horsesí hooves pound the ground with General Wolfe,
Forced spinners to emigrate to New South Wales
Or lodge in hulks on their way to Botany Bay,
Saw coal black gold shift on cut and iron railway,
Fought a losing battle with boiler, chimney, steam,
Felt weed-dank choke my wooden-wheels,
Then knew my time was past.
So shed a mournful tear and took my vow of silence.