Mungrisdale Writers Group

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Colin Armstrong


The falls that carry the rains from the fell

To the lake in the valley below

 Can be heard crashing down in the distance

Beneath the palest of pale rainbows.

For centuries the waters have worn away

At the slate-smooth side of the fell

And now from a polished rock flute they have formed

Spout like a flared white peacock’s tail.

It is not even yet November

And bright berries the holly adorn,

But without the sound of crashing falls

There’d be nothing to welcome the morn.

The songbirds now are silent

From them no dawn chorus rings

For temperatures falling with incessant rain

Have dampened their spirits to sing.

Whilst on Loweswater ‘s swollen feeder streams

Leafy flotillas go sailing by,

Leaves of oak and ash and chestnut

Cascading from on high.

And alongside the falls side by side are stood

Golden fans of bracken

And bright green ferns of the wood.

The bright evergreen of ferns unchanging

Whilst brackens change from gold to brown

And will finally submit to winter

Who’s sharp frosts will lay them down.

Winged seeds of the sycamore too spiral down

From branches that sway in the breeze,

And red paint declares the sentence of death

On diseased and unsafe trees.

Plastic mesh across footpaths

And signs to say, ‘This way is closed’

For torrential rains and gale force winds

On the woods have taken their toll.

Some of the older and taller trees

Have been toppled by the gales

And after seasoning and sawing

Will become gates and fencing rails.

Nothing here is left to waste,

All will be gathered in,

Brambles for jam, elderberries for wine,

Sloes to colour and flavour gin.

For after all, when gifts are free,

To waste would be a sin.

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