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Rivers in Poetry

Writers from across the Brecks have contributed poems inspired by our rivers to this literary gallery.

Guildhall Writers, Thetford

Trees beside the river Lark The wind their branches blow I reach to touch the ancient bark As air and water flow I travelled to where the rivers met Past the old pulp mill The Little Ouse, the people’s Thet Then sat alone and still.

Along by the river’s edge Delicate maiden pinks bloom Sheared petals peak beneath a hedge Bright faces in the gloom Patterned pottery discovered in the earth Romano British, a piece of Norfolk history Who can judge the item’s truest worth No cost to solving mystery

Oh lo and behold the maiden pinks Along the Lark since the dawn of time The river can change its colour like many inks Made of chalk and lime Pull me along your watery chains Like an eel meekly on his ladder Keep our waters clean, use your brains Like the perch, the chubb and the adder Thetford - the people’s ford Lido, pulp spas and huts Vikings came to hide their hoards Now people walk with their mutts

Turbulently cutting through chalk Water bubbling through the pale For a river runs without learning to walk To deliver the liquor for making ale The Thet and Ouse do rendevous Although Little, before it is Great They flow together as friends, it’s true To arrive at Denver Sluice gate.

The river is too fast, we’ll build a staunch Now the fish can’t reach their spawning ground We’ll construct a ramp for a boat to launch Then a ladder so the stranded fish can go round. The people’s ford right here at the Thet For the Iceni, the Vikings and Normans it’s seen Then came the industry for a profit to get No the old river we’ll have to clean

If you swim from Brandon staunch Whether an otter, a fish or an eel. You’ll never wear a paunch Or have trouble finding a meal Only a maiden pink flower would zig-zag itself at West Stow Perhaps a response to an ancient power Or the chalk stream flowing below. Where two rivers say hello and meet A gate or three does control their flow They cater joyfully for many feet Where the meadow grass never-endingly grows.

Theatre Royal Writers’ Room Group

We come from the West Built hearths, homes pots, cups, spoons, knives You tread on our lives Sparkling spouts rivu- -lets. Maiden pinks bend and sway Kingfisher darting

Waters running free Free sparkling brightly chilled Waters brilliant

It flows cold and sharp Carries antiquities far Oh so cold and sharp I can see it all Me, you and the river Lark Love, change, peace…and us

A clear river flows We walk along its green banks Today. Yesterday. The river holds time Young and old, drinking, washing. Green insects hover.

Time’s waters rush on Flowing with past joys and tears Staunched by memories Blink and you’ll miss it A small sliver of nature Besieged by concrete Oak posts in Earth holes With lyres, swords and silver bands All for tourists’ gold

Blast the damn fish pass The canal boat’s way too long Try the eel ladder! Up the abbey rear Beware Prickwillows very near Turning maidens pink Wetland politics Government secrets shredded Yet more pulp fiction.

Zoom Group

From Boudicca to baby baths The Thet has seen it all, A rainbow of a river Spanned by three bridges' walls. The Thet has seen it all you know: Secrets pulped and nuns Crossing by the bridges Beneath whose spans she runs. Otters, maiden pinks, nuthatch and linnet, From sewage to rubbish to park. The greenery shades and the sun shines its light On the rarest of chalk streams, The Lark.

Flowing fast and furious, slow then fast again The birds sing their welcome, the pinks give a wave Rest to let the fishes pass, going ever upwards in chain Meander in my finery of many colours that the canning gave

Glistening in the sunlight stream The River Lark, a sight to dream Amidst the reeds, the fish do swarm Power source of nature, a wondrous form Oh Lark she flows with power and grace Fish swim with an elegant pace Sunlight beams, reflect and shine Reeds sway in rhythm so divine River Ouse flows with a rush, Fish swim in a hopeful hush, Sunlight on the surface dance Power and beauty in perfect balance

With thanks to Lynn Whitehead, of Cabaret Techne, who collected these poems through her creative writing workshops, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund through BFER.

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