Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Making Peace with Progress (On the Waterways of Britain)

I wrote today’s poem to accompany the video my friend GrahamCollett shot some time ago for my You Tube channel (a team effort). Feedback suggests that some readers cannot always access You Tube so you can watch it here (see video at the bottom of this page) and listen to me reading the poem  over it OR tune into it directly on You Tube:


Alternatively, if the link does not work, go to my You Tube Channel and search by title:


After my being incapacitated for over a year following a bad fall in August 2014, we thought it would be a good idea to test new video software with some earlier - previously unpublished - footage  before proceeding to edit/post the next (recent) video/poem to You Tube comprising footage of The Gift Horse sculpture on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. Watch this space…]

The video shows a section of the Kennet and Avon Canal, a waterway in southern England made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal; the name is commonly used to refer to the entire length rather than just the central canal section. In all, the waterway incorporates 105 locks, one of which you can see in the video. The two river stretches were made navigable in the early 18th century, and the 57-mile (92 km) canal section was constructed between 1794 and 1810.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal gradually fell into disuse after the opening of the Great Western Railway. In the latter half of the 20th century the canal was restored in stages, largely by volunteers. After decades of dereliction requiring much restoration work, it was fully reopened in 1990. Since developed as a popular heritage tourism location for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling, it is also important for its wildlife.

This poem that I read over the video (also in the Description on You Tube) is a villanelle.


On the waterways of Britain
(many neglected for years)
Man and nature as one again

Compensating for acid rain,
find honest sweat and tears
on the waterways of Britain

Ever mindful of loss and gain,
(Oh, spirited volunteers!)
Man and nature as one again

A testament to industry’s pain,
toiling through its centuries
on the waterways of Britain

Hosting the occasional swan,
even water voles and otters,
Man and nature as one again

Among such, pages written
of a nation’s finer endeavours;
on the waterways of Britain,
Man and nature as one again

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

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