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Dancing Reeds

by Ted Ellis

Wordsworth's daffodils, tossing their heads in sprightly dance, were small- time performers compared with Norfolk's graceful reeds, however delightful their setting in the green vistas of Lakeland.

Today, as I looked out to a fringe of marsh where tree-shadows formed a dark back-cloth and sunlight flooded an open area in front, some well-spaced reeds held the stage and displayed their perfect freedom of movement as the wind swirled about them.

They looked for all the world like human dancers, swaying, writhing, bowing and thrusting.

At times their gestures were those of a group of African braves leaning forward with levelled spears; then they were naiads rising from a pool with tresses flying in an abandon of feminine grace and pale arms pointing to the heavens. They sprang and stood still, like ballet-dancers on tiptoe, assuming classical postures only to pass into the wild whirling of a melee of dervishes as an eddy struck them.

There were moments when the stiff leaves streaked out horizontally and trembled or shuddered in a streaming breeze, and sometimes they fluttered like flags in the hand of a signaller, with a military rhythm.

The only music accompanying the reed dancers was their own whispering as they touched crisply in passing, and a faint murmuration of wind in the willows nearby; but the scene conjured up a sweetness of wandering harmonies in the mind: of flutes and panpipes and soft, crooning voices; of drums in the jungle and pibrochs in the hills, while I came to see every ecstasy of the dances before me a parallel in human grace expressing the freedom of spirit that lies within us all.

Norfolk Reeds

Norfolk Poems




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