17 May 2022


"Ribbledin" is the name that Ebenezer Elliott invented for a stream that is in reality called Black Brook. It descends from Lodge Moor to the west of Sheffield, plunging to The River Rivelin below.  It was here, in the 1830's,  that he would sit to cogitate and absorb Nature's beauty. The Scottish poet, Robbie Burns (1759-1796) is referenced in the poem. He was one of Elliott's literary heroes - another "man of the people".
Ebenezer Elliott


No name hast thou! lone streamlet
That lovest Rivilin. 
Here, if a bard may christen thee, 
I’ll call thee “Ribbledin;” 
Here, where first murmuring from thine urn, 
Thy voice deep joy expresses; 
And down the rock, like music, flows 
The wildness of thy tresses. 

Here, while beneath the umbrage 
Of Nature’s forest bower, 
Bridged o’er by many a fallen birch, 
And watch’d by many a flower, 
To meet thy cloud-descended love,
All trembling, thou retirest – 
Here will I murmur to thy waves 
The sad joy thou inspirest. 

Dim world of weeping mosses! 
A hundred years ago, 
Yon hoary-headed holly tree 
Beheld thy streamlet flow: 
See how he bends him down to hear 
The tune that ceases never! 
Old as the rocks, wild stream, he seems, 
While thou art young for ever. 

Wildest and lonest streamlet! 
Grey oaks, all lichen’d o’er! 
Rush-bristled isles! ye ivied trunks 
That marry shore to shore! 
And thou, gnarl’d dwarf of centuries, 
Whose snaked roots twist above me! 
O for the tongue or pen of Burns, 
To tell you how I love ye! 

Would that I were a river, 
To wander all alone 
Through some sweet Eden of the wild, 
In music of my own;
And bathed in bliss, and fed with dew, 
Distill’d o’er mountains hoary, 
Return unto my home in heav’n 
On wings of joy and glory! 

Or that I were the lichen, 
That, in this roofless cave, 
(The dim geranium’s lone boudoir,) 
Dwells near the shadow’d wave, 
And hears the breeze-bow’d tree-tops sigh, 
While tears below are flowing, 
For all the sad and lovely things 
That to the grave are going! 

O that I were a primrose, 
To bask in sunny air! 
Far, far from all the plagues that make 
Town-dwelling men despair! 
Then would I watch the building-birds, 
Where light and shade are moving, 
And lovers’ whisper, and love’s kiss, 
Rewards the loved and loving! 

Or that I were a skylark, 
To soar and sing above, 
Filling all hearts with joyful sounds, 
And my own soul with love! 
Then o’er the mourner and the dead, 
And o’er the good man dying, 
My song should come like buds and flowers, 
When music warbles flying. 

O that a wing of splendour,
Like yon wild cloud, were mine! 
Yon bounteous cloud, that gets to give, 
And borrows to resign! 
On that bright wing, to climes of spring 
I’d bear all wintry bosoms, 
And bid hope smile on weeping thoughts, 
Like April on her blossoms;

Or like the rainbow, laughing 
O’er Rivilin and Don,  
When misty morning calleth up 
Her mountains, one by one, 
While glistening down the golden broom, 
The gem-like dew-drop raineth, 
And round the little rocky isles 
The little wave complaineth. 

O that the truth of beauty 
Were married to my rhyme! 
That it might wear a mountain charm 
 Until the death of Time! 
Then, Ribbledin! would all the best 
Of Sorrow’s sons and daughters 
See Truth reflected in my song, 
Like beauty on thy waters. 

No longer, nameless streamlet, 
That marriest Rivilin! 
Henceforth, lone Nature’s devotees 
Would call thee “Ribbledin,” 
Whenever, listening where thy voice 
Its first wild joy expresses, 
And down the rocks all wildly flows 
The wildness of thy tresses.


  1. Perhaps our Ebeneezer was reminiscing about a trip to Lancashire and waxing lyrical about the river Ribble. Or even Ribble buses? Seriously. He's a very talent poet YP.

    1. It is unlikely that he ever visited Lancashire. People tended not to travel very far in those days.

  2. Twelve verses of old language. This is one of the reasons I don't much like poetry. Give me a five line limerick any day.

    1. Do you like songs? I think of them as poems set to music.

  3. He cogitated a long time on that little stream, Neil! I enjoyed how he noticed (and mentioned) so many little things around him.

    1. I like the way he addresses the stream as if it were a living being.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

Most Visits