Stop all the locks...

No-one can step into the same river twice – Heraclitus

Stop all the locks, and stem the River’s flow

Stop the frogs from larking in what they cannot know

Silence all the warblers, choke the roach and bream

Fill it all with sewage now, the tributary and stream


Restless birds are circling, with nowhere safe to feed

All of this to satisfy your Corporation’s greed

Nature now is watching you, as she slowly dies

The water vole and curlew, can you hear their cries?


Stash the boat and fishing rod, the water wings, canoe

This water, once a haven, not safe, for me, for you

The children cannot paddle here, dip water with their toes

And in the silent shallows, water boatman no longer rows


The reed mace, and the rushes here, now wither far from green

As browny sludge and algal blooms now dominate the stream

A dragonfly’s mistaken what’s sticking out of mud

And lays her precious tiny eggs upon a cotton bud


The shallowness of gravel once filled with fishes eggs

Now lifeless and particulate, a mess of floating dregs

The food chain has been broken, the caddis fly’s no more

All that’s left is greyness, we lay this at your door


Though every household pays you, to manage, clean and fix

Our water, waste and outflows, yet still you play your tricks

Financial orchestration, the substance of receipts

To move our funds to dividends and manage your deceipts


So who are your investors? Where is their domicile?

Do they live next door to us within this Sceptr’d Isle?

We think that so unlikely, more that they’re all off-shore,

Extracting too much profit, to leave our Rivers poor


It’s time for some accountancy, perhaps an AGM?

To give us explanations, from where decisions stem

Let’s meet your truest shareholders, and have them take the floor

Let them ask the questions, they number by the score


Up first, the water-crowfoot, her flowers like a mat

The most diverse of fishes enjoyed her habitat

“I need the freshest water, why can’t you keep it clean?”

The bed where all my roots should lie – the dirtiest I’ve seen”


The mayfly and the caddis, the flatworm, midge, and mite

The water shrimp and damsel, are here to join the fight

Invertebrate ecology, it needs the clean, the fresh

Not soaked with fecal coliforms, bad filtered through a mesh


Let’s not forget the creatures, of feathers and of beak

They all deserve protection from persistence of your leaks

Heron, Coot, and Mallard, the names of just a few

How can they breed and multiply amongst this rancid stew?


Wind whispers in the willows, about a corporate thief

And Ratty, Toad and Badger now share collective grief

Whilst Otter’s gone a-hunting for non-existent fish,

Mole no longer burrows, and reeds no longer swish


We can’t splash about in shallows, E. Coli for a friend

You claim all this is ‘Legal’, the ‘Rules’ for you to bend

Wild swimming isn’t sensible, because to our dismay

We float along with pathogens, Hepatitis C or A


Dendritic networked freshness should feed into our Thames

Map-drawn in lines of blueness, a thick, wet thread of friends:

“The Cole, the Leach and Windrush, the Evenlode and Pang

The Cherwell, Thame and Kennet” the gathered naiads sang


Each join and add their offerings, fresh sky-fall and the rest

The Mole, the Rythe and Hogsmill, should be amongst the best

The Wandle now meanders, and Tyburn’s underground,

Why ruin this potential when richness can abound?


But rivers are not wanted now; so squander every one

Pack away the willow trees, dismantle all the fun

Pour away the chalk streams, scrape water meadows clean

For nothing shows that’s pleasant now, in fabled lands of green


The limestone and the chalk stream, the trout that gasp for air

Every single life form, deserves your greatest care

So time to issue notice, however much you howl

We’re side by side with Nature, and standing cheek by jowl

Stop All the Locks – River Thames – © 2022 Tony Davis

Stop all the locks

Stop all the Locks is a narrative poem written and read by Tony Davis. The full length poem (17 verses) incorporates river catchment specific verses to match the relevant water company operating areas. The video features a short-form of 11 verses. The poem is inspired by Auden’s Funeral Blues in rhythm and tone.

This is part of a campaign to shame water companies, raise awareness in the general public and to effect change. Hard copies of the poem will be sent to each board member of each Water Company with specific verses written for the catchment they’re responsible for damaging. It’s time we were all tributaries feeding into the Great River of Potential Change. There are three more poems in progress featuring the major rivers Thames, Cam, Wye and Usk.

In November 2022 Genny Early and Tony Davis both recently had an online session with the Stonesfield village environment group (the nearest river is the Evenlode – a tributary of the Thames). This meeting featured pioneering work done by Windrush against sewage pollution (W.A.S.P) in Witney, Oxfordshire. Tony was impressed by WASP’s work and also upset by the ongoing ecological damage happening continually across the UK. He decided to use his creative skills to raise awareness, supporting WASP’s in the process. He spoke to composer Nick Hooper about possible composition to support the video.

About Tony Davis
The author Tony Davis lives and works locally creating art, designs and commissions across the UK all inspired by Nature. His work is exhibited at events including RHS Chelsea. Designs are stocked by Leckford Estate, the National Trust, and Highgrove in addition to select smaller retailers. Work is also available online at

About Genny Early
Genny Early works on projects locally in Oxfordshire to improve the state of Nature and co-runs the Farmland Bird Aid Network charity. She also manages the Wychwood Flora Group which monitors and works to maintain wild flora in Oxfordshire. Genny and Tony both founded A Blackbird Sang in 2016.

About Nick Hooper
Nick Hooper is a composer, musician and author best known for his two original scores for the Harry Potter film series. He has won several internationally-acclaimed awards, including two BAFTAs (Prime Suspect: The Final Act, The Young Visiters) and an Ivor Novello (The Young Visiters).

 Any comments on this project please Contact me.

Status: Work in progress
Year: 2023+
Website: n/a