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Canal Life – YOUR FAVOURITE POEM


To celebrate the launch of the Canal & River Trust, renowned English poet Ian McMillan

has written ‘Canal Life’.

Ian McMillan, renowned English poet
Ian McMillan, renowned English poet

 The canal tells you stories

The canal sings you songs

They hang in that space

Between memory and water

 

Once saw a narrowboat raised up,

Like it was cutting through the air,

Between two grass walls and the road below

Like it was sliding through history,

And a tiny vole swam across the water

So a tiny vole swam through history.

 

The canal tells you stories,

The canal sings you songs

  

Once saw a man floating belly up in a canal

Like he was in the bath. He shouted

‘This is the life’ as I passed by on a narrowboat;

The sky was reflected in the surface

And we tied up in the places the map never showed us,

The man floating by, making ripples on the surface.

 

They hang in that space

Between memory and water

 

Once got waved at by a jogger as I stood gongoozling

On the towpath; her running  gave rhythm

To the early afternoon, dog-strollers and kids

Who’d rather be here than sitting in school.

To gongoozle is to stand and watch narrowboats pass

And a canal is a lesson, a water-based school.

   

The canal tells you stories

The canal sings you songs

 

Once these canals were information highways

If coal and iron can be information,

And I think they can be. And there are bridges,

Pub gardens, the laughter of children

As they walk by the water; and the canals

Turn us all into curious children.

  

They hang in that space

Between memory and water

 

Once is never enough for a canal, I reckon;

You need to go back and see it again,

And sail it again, and smell it again, and

Touch it again; canals run through our veins

Like they stroll through this country

Like blood through our veins.

  

The canal tells you stories

The canal sings you songs

They hang in that space

Between memory and water

Ian McMillan

YOUR FAVOURITE POEM

SENT IN BY YOU

WHAT’S YOUR’S?

About poetreecreations

I am an author writer publisher web administrator I run poetry workshops in the community. My published Manners childrens poetry book can be found at www.waterstones.com

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