© Noel Harrower 2018
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SPIRIT OF THE EXE                                                                    NOEL HARROWER I am the Spirit of the Exe, here tide and torrent meet: green Haldon on my west bank and Exmouth on my east. Between lies rich and soggy sand, a low-tide feast of worms for avocet and lapwing, for redshanks and for terns. I spring to life in Exmoor moss, in boggy grounds and pools I rise to dance in Dure Down, while rivulets run underground to trickle into Simonsbath, where Exmoor ponies crop my banks and skylarks burst the air. I tumble down the Three Combs Hill and gargle by the ford – from Lyncombe Wood to Winsford by Bridgetown to Kent’s Weir to the meeting of the waters and the merging with the Barle. My surge is now a river –it becomes a source of power…. How I loved to race the millstream and grind the wheels for flour. Then Heathcote came to Tiverton and mechanized the town, I learned to drive the weaving looms and make the neatest gown. I’ve seen the docks at Exeter wax rich – then wane again. When Countess Isabella built a weir across my flow I thwarted her with a canal, for lighter, sleeker craft. Big ships moored off Exmouth – the quays began to grow. From Holland, Spain and Portugal, Virginia and beyond cheeses, wines and spices came with Caribbean fruits, and ships were built at Topsham, whose Dutch gables graced the Strand. And now I feel the surge of seas, as tide and torrent meet. I race with kites. I sail with yachts. I dance the summer breeze. Wildfowl come to greet me. Their migration is complete. They circle and they swoop to feast, as the tide withdraws its flow, and my silvered sands are glinting in the late autumnal glow.   My waters merge and mingle with salt spray and the tide. I leave them in the deep seas, but each day I’m revived by the springs that rise on Exmoor, by the streams that make me thrive. I am the Spirit of the Exe, my story will survive! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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