READING ESL: beautiful river (poem)

Choral Speaking Competitions

I wrote this poem for a poetry recitation competition that we didn’t win. No hard feelings.

Choral speaking events are very popular in Malaysian primary schools, and it reminds me very much of my childhood experiences in South Wales. As far as I know, Malaysia and Wales are unique in their love of choral speaking events. My colleague who is the same age group as me was brought up in the neighbouring English county of Herefordshire, and she’s never heard of it. Choral speaking events are not a ‘thing’ in New Zealand, either.

It’s an acquired taste, I must say. But it is also very hard work for the competitors and their coaches, and some of the work is superb, even If you don’t like that sort of thing. Obviously, these verses were written to be read aloud. So, as I was writing the verses I read them back to myself to see if they sounded OK, and I was surprised to hear myself reading out loud in a Cwmbrân accent from my primary school days in South Wales.

The theme for the poetry recitation was a choice of Beauty’, ‘Freedom’ or ‘Hope’ and each entry had to be original work of 4-6 minute duration. There are one or two unfamiliar words for English learners, so I have added a short glossary at the end.

Beautiful River

Beautiful River, plentiful river, running past our town.

River deep and river wide, filled with fish from side to side.

Running fast or running slow, with levels high and levels low.

With raindrops dancing and sunlight glancing Upon the water’s top.

Our river flows and flows and never stops.

Eternal river always there, but how much do we really care?

Beautiful river, plentiful river, running past our town.

We are glad to have this prize that wends and winds before our eyes

We can look and we can see beauty, power and majesty,

Stretch your eyes and admire the view, forest green and sky so blue

Cut through with yellow-brown and silver-blue, as the river passes through.

Beauty, beauty everywhere, but do we even know it’s there?

Beautiful River, plentiful river, running past our town.

River deep and river wide, filled with fish from side to side.

Running fast or running slow, with levels high and levels low.

With raindrops dancing and sunlight glancing Upon the water’s top.

Our river flows and flows and never stops.

Eternal river always there, but how much do we really care?

Beautiful River, plentiful river, running past our town.

Anytime you want to go to some other place, like, Temerloh,

It was not the road in times gone by, it was the river, that would deliver

The passengers and freight (this was before we had the ninety-eight*).

We are free to take our fill, and use the river as we will

Take what you want, it’s up to you, but what will future generations do?

Beautiful River, plentiful river, running past our town.

River deep and river wide, filled with fish from side to side.

Running fast or running slow, with levels high and levels low.

With raindrops dancing and sunlight glancing Upon the water’s top.

Our river flows and flows and never stops.

Eternal river always there, but how much do we really care?

Beautiful River, plentiful river, running past our town.

With river’s fish we fill our dish, but how long will it last?

The net is cast and the die is rolled, our past is bought and our future sold.

Let’s face the facts, and let’s be honest, the river can’t live without the forest.

The forest gives the river health, it also gives the loggers wealth.

There is much to lose on every side, but are we ready to decide?

Beautiful River, plentiful river, running past our town.

River deep and river wide, filled with fish from side to side.

Running fast or running slow, with levels high and levels low.

With raindrops dancing and sunlight glancing Upon the water’s top.

Our river flows and flows and never stops. Eternal river always there, but how much do we really care?

It’s free to keep and free to lose. I hope we know which one to chose.

Glossary: PLENTIFUL (adj) more than enough of something WENDS (v) to go from point A to point B in by a very indirect route GLANCING (v) to glance is to look quickly. In this case it suggests light moving across the water ETERNAL (adj) for ever and ever, for all time CAST (v) thrown DIE (n) singular form of dice LOGGERS (n) people who cut down trees in the forest for their job * The ninety-eight is the road that runs alongside the river from Jerantut to Temerloh

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