River Ribble in Poetry and Literature - Service and Belloc in the Mud
Poet Robert Service was born in Preston, and I like to think he played in the River Ribble’s mud as a child. That’s what I think inspired his poem ‘Mud’:
Mud is Beauty in the making,
Mud is melody awaking;
Laughter, leafy whisperings,
Butterflies with rainbow wings;
Baby babble, lover's sighs,
Bobolink in lucent skies;
Ardours of heroic blood
All stem back to Matrix Mud.
Mud is mankind in the moulding,
Heaven's mystery unfolding;
Miracles of mighty men,
Raphael's brush and Shakespear's pen;
Sculpture, music, all we owe
Mozart, Michael Angelo;
Wonder, worship, dreaming spire,
Issue out of primal mire.
In the raw, red womb of Time
Man evolved from cosmic slime;
And our thaumaturgic day
Had its source in ooze and clay . . .
But I have not power to see
Such stupendous alchemy:
And in star-bright lily bud
Lo! I worship Mother Mud.
The people who back Riverworks don’t have any poetry in their souls, and cannot see the beauty, or the key importance to wildlife (and children) of the Ribble’s mud - lets not drown it, cover it with concrete, or impede it's journey to the Ribble Estuary!
A redshank enjoys the Ribble's Mud
And here is what Hilaire Belloc had to say about the Ribble:
"The sources of the Ribble are in a lonely place up in a corner of the hills where everything has strange shapes and where the rocks make one think of trolls. The great frozen Whernside stands up above it, and Ingleborough Hill, which is like no other hill in England, but like the flat-topped Mesas which you have in America, or (as those who have visited it tell me) like the flat hills of South Africa; and a little way off on the other side is Pen-y-ghent, or words to that effect. The little River Ribble rises under such enormous guardianship. It rises quite clean and single in the shape of a little spring upon the hillside, and too few people know it."
If you know of a reference from great literature or poetry to the River Ribble, please feel free to post it here!
By the way, on the subject of the Ribble's muds and silts, a great letter from C.P. Wash was published in today's Lancashire Evening Post:
"The fact is ... that regardless of how far up river of the Special Protection Area and RAMSAR site a barrage might be situated, and regardless of whether it is a few metres high or several, or the incoming tide washes over the top or not, it would still create a barrier to the movement of silts down the river, and therefore reduce the silt-bound nutrients to the SPA/RAMSAR site that the tidal nature of the river currently replaces twice a day.
This would deplete this delicate ecosystem, and thus significantly damage an internationally protected bird habitat"
Keep those letters going in to the papers - if enough people speak up, perhaps the council will start to see what is blindingly obvious to everyone else!
river poetry literature belloc mud service
Click here for more photographs of the Ribble