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A Miller's Poem


23rd April 1977

At the Mill

A wagon load of sacks of wheat,
Drawn by a four horse team,
Is lumbering on through Buxton Street,
And nears the mill and stream;
As you approach the long Mill Street
Your road will pass the "Crown,"
And then the village school and church,
A little further down;
I wonder why the church should rub
Its shoulders with the local pub,
Or why such close affinity
"Twixt brewing and divinity!
The houses in a long line run
Along the northern side,
And face the meadows and the sun
And distant countryside;
Ben Parson's farm upon the ridge
Looks on the Bure below,
Meandering to Mayton Bridge,
With slow and placid flow,
Past Hobbis and its ancient Hall,
With crow-step gables, pinnacles,
And Tudor chimneys tall.

Along the street 'tis plain to see
The wealth of the community.
The small and humble labourer's cot,
Where children are, but wealth is not.
Here villas where retired folks
Have peace and comfort in their looks,
The butcher's and the grocer's shop,
And at the corner near the top,
There stands the sage watch-doctor's shop,
Who in his younger days had made
A blue-faced clock to show his trade,
Fixed in the wall, with figures bold,
And hands all bright with shining gold,
The happy children tripping past,
With merry laugh,
And playful chaff,
Cry, "Mr. Russell, your clock is fast."
And just beyond, the great white mill
Stares all the length of Buxton Street,
And from the lookum window sill
Old John looks out, the children greet
The miller as they trip along,
And sing this simple country song:
"Miller, miller, dusty poke,
Up the ladder and down the rope,
When he went up he took a peck,
When he came down he broke his neck."

"Miller, miller, perched up high,
In your lookum near the sky.
Powderd face and dusty coat,
A horn of beer will clear your throat,
A wagon gay and horses four,
Are standing here against your door,
Five-and-twenty sacks of corn,
Waiting to be upward bourn.
Miller, miller, perched up high,
Pull the sacks up to the sky!"

"Miller, miller, dusty poke,
The chain is ready pull the rope,
When the sack is at the top,
Down the oak trap door will flop;
Loose the ringle and the chain,
Send them rattling down again.
Jimmy when he gets them back,
Will quickly snare another sack;
Miller, miller dusty poke,
The sack is ready, pull the rope!"

Miller, miller, grinding flour,
Turning out a sack an hour,
Fine and white to make our bread,
For you know we must be fed;
But your flying browny bran,
Caught the face of sister Ann,
Though she ran a rapid pace
Freckles stuck upon her face;
Miller, miller, grinding flour,
Do you know tis dinner hour?"

Here on the wide bridge parapet
I view the scene before me set.
The years roll back in memory,
For more than half a century;
I hear the water music still,
That babbles underneath the mill:
The breast wheel's lapping intervenes,
And rumbling of the mill machine;
The water rushing through the weir,
The broad mill dam, and reach are there,
The lock and framed in emerald bower,
The distant Lammas Church and tower.
Betwixt the river and the road,
The meadow has been lately mowed,
The sun shone gloriously that day.
It dried the new mown meadow hay,
It blessed the children in their play.
"Tis Lammas water frolic day.
Here, moored along by stake and pile,
The wherries life in single file,
The "Mayflower" and the "Volunteer,"
The "Zulu" too, has brought up here;
And Frank and Amy Etheridge,
Those river folk diminutive,
Who always in the "Prospect" live,
For, sport are finding time to give.

Anon



23rd April 1977


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© Jonathan Neville 2002

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