The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2012 Crabbe Memorial Competition – Second Prize
Adjudicator: Kenneth Steven

He sits under a willow tree
on the banks of a clear chalk stream.
In my coloured glass the river flows
through night and day and night.

At noon the sun casts pools of green,
of yellow, brown and blue –
they slide across the limestone flags
of Prior Silkstede’s side chapel –
so mayflies dance, rushes nod,
warblers almost sing.

Darkness falls, the cathedral doors
are bolted fast. All is still. But when
the moon shines bright and full
my river is drawn up into the night.

Besides the Itchen, the Kennet, the Dove,
Izaak watches for the flash of a flank,
the flick of a tail, a slicing fin. His bait
grasshoppers, lobworms, frogs.

Men stand and stare at me, at him,
in hushed tones swap tall fishing tales
of flies tried out, fish caught, fish lost,
and eels. Ah, eels, now there’s a thing.

At dusk he’ll take his net, his creel,
walk back to his rooms to write it down:
the sermon which broke from its chrysalis
on a shaking reed as he sat and fished
and read and prayed beside the waters
which flowed, which flow, then as now,
of Kennet, Itchen, Derbyshire Dove.

Through dusk to dawn to noon to dusk
Izaak Walton studies to be quiet.

Copyright © Anne Boileau 2012

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