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The Fen

by Bernard Gilbert

No more I hear the waters roar,
Roused by the coming of the bore,
No more the river turns again
To sweep across the level fen-
No more the winds in fury ride
Above the marshes wild and wide
Before the rising of the tide:
The waters roam no more.

No more I wade along the fen
For heron or for water hen,
Nor hug the bottom of my boat
As to the feeding ducks I'd float;
Nor ambushed lay wi' roving eye
To watch like specks against the sky
The wild geese circling on high:
The waters roam no more.

No more I creep, nor crouching, run,
Nor trail my owd long-barelled gun,
Nor listen how the water laps
About my sunken fishing traps;
'Tis eighty year sin', as a boy,
I first helped at the duck decoy,
And now - I know but little joy:
The waters roam no more.

My feyther knew the hidden ways
Across the waste and marshy maze;
He knew each haunt of bird and fish
And how to find 'en at his wish,
While sometimes in his punt he 'd sing
Until the reedy dykes'd ring,
But now's the end of everything:
The waters roam no more.

When, on a stormy winter's night
There stirs a noise, or sudden light,
I lay and pant to hear 'em shout
In panic 'coz the water's out;
For long I look and anxious strain;
Alas! my hope is allers vain,
And sad I go to sleep again:
The waters roam no more.

No more the waters roam on land,
But hid away on every hand
Are led in channels to the sea;
Instead of flowing fancy free,
Instead of roaring fierce and wild,
The same as when I wor a child,
They creep imprisoned and defiled:
The waters roam no more.

Norfolk Poems




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