The alternative William Harrison

Things have not gone quite to plan this week so an intended 2000+ word petition to the Honourable Corporation of the Bedford Level is held over until next week.
However, I can’t let William slip away so I thought these small pieces – fragments of now lost poetry – can fill the void.

This first piece was included in William Marshall’s chapter on ‘Plants of the Fens’ from ‘Fenland Past & Present’:

When Spring displayed her quickening powers
Up sprung aquatic plants and flowers
So thick the sun could scarcely trace
His image in the liquid glass.
Rearing its brilliant head between
Broad floating leaves of glossy green.
The Yellow Water Lily swum
Upon the surface of the scum;
Like serried groves of hostile spears
The Reeds uprais’d amidst the Meers,
Their pointed heads of dusky brown
By every passing breeze bow’d down.

It is thought that this came from an 8-900 line descriptive poems on ‘The Bedford Level’.

On a more sombre note we have William comparing and contrasting the Fenlands as they change from watery ‘wastes’ to managed farmland.

When the swain shall plough and sow
Where the fisher used to row;
Waving cornfields supersede
Swampy wastes of sedge and reed:
Bleating sheep and lowing kine
In the future concert join
Where the Bittern’s hollow boom
Once echoed through the dreary gloom.

William’s petition will be delivered to you next week


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