The rivers, forever five rivers
Driving down through limestone, carving grit —
Every vista the city delivers
Forged at their silvering hand
And while kids strike out in creative
Trades their grandads, roiling over molten vats,
Wouldn’t’ve bloody dreamed of, the landscape’s native
Relief, scribed into five valleys, is the constant.
In orange flare and flux, steel found the mould’s edges,
Cooled and hardened like a fact — yet conditions change:
For all a chancellor’s cast-iron pledges
Your semiprecious, precious, still face
Meltdown. Build your bridges, galvanised and plated;
Five rivers forever outspan them.
The Rivelin’s mouldered waterwheels, livelihoods vacated,
Millstones worked by wind and moss alone —
A shallowed flow, still gabbing with the stories
Of cutlers, snowbound in stone huts, awaiting spring.
A straitened Don reflecting on past glories,
A factory frontage glancing down on its own
Water-rendered selfie, dock and clover reclaiming
Glassless windows. Literally nothing’s
Behind the façade. But a chance at reframing
The picture is offered. The spate of the rivers,
Renewal and energy, plenitude, endless redemption
And purification. Vapour, lift, rebirth.
We’re all washed up and we’re granted exemption
From the rules of the classical model…
Pete Green’s Sheffield Almanac was published by Longbarrow Press in May 2017 (as of April 2022, the pamphlet is temporarily out of stock). An essay by Green for the Longbarrow Blog addresses issues of civic identity and civic pride, and examines Sheffield’s status as a ‘City of Making’. Click here to read ‘Model City’.