Cicely Fox Smith
The Song Of The Mill - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
As by the pool I wandered that lies so clear and still
With tall old trees about it, hard by the silent mill
Whose ancient oaken timbers no longer creak and groan
With the roar of wheel and water, and grind of stone on stone.
The idle mill-race slumbered beneath the mouldering wheel,
The pale March sunlight glided no motes of floating meal,
But the stream went singing onward, went singing by the weir -
And this, or something like it, was the song I seemed to hear: -
'By Teviot, Tees and Avon, by Esk and Ure and Tweed,
Here's many a trusty henchmen would rally to your need;
By Itchen, Test and Waveney, by Tamar, Trent and Ouse,
Here's many a loyal servant will help you if you choose.'
'Do they no longer need us who needed us of yore?
We stood not still aforetime when England marched to war;
Like those our wind-driven brothers, far seen o'er weald and fen,
We ground the wheat and barley to feed stout Englishmen.'
'You call the men of England, their strength, their toil, their gold,
But us you haven't summoned, who served your sires of old;
For service high or humble, for tribute great and small,
You call them and they answer - but us you do not call.'
'Yet we no hoarded fuel of mine or well require,
That drives your fleet to battle or light the poor man's fire;
We need no white-hot furnace for tending night and day,
No power of harnessed lightnings to speed us on our way.'
'By Tavy, Dart and Derwent, by Wharfe and Usk and Nidd,
Here's many a trusty vassal is yours when you shall bid,
With the strength of English rivers to push the wheels along,
And the roar of many a mill-race to join the victory song.'
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