Singing of the Fenland with Sharron Kraus: ‘A River is a Snake’ is online

The song ‘A River Is A Snake’, composed by the folk singer and songwriter Sharron Kraus starting from the stories told during the two events ‘There is Something in the Water’ and ‘Think Water’, organised in the Bevills Leam catchment as part of ‘The Reasons’, is now available online. The song was recorded by James Street and Dean Honer.

Watch the video here (you can find the lyrics below):


Listen to the song here:


Sharron Kraus

If you fly low over the Fens

A strange sight comes into view

A checkerboard of fields, green and brown

With channels of water blue



A river is a snake, winding through the land

But straight are these channels we’ve dug by hand

A river is alive, flowing as it will

But we control these channels, make the water flow uphill


The fields you see are fertile and rich

They yield fine crops of potatoes and grain

The peaty earth was once submerged

But the wetlands we did drain

We pushed back the sea, brought in the plough

We claimed this drowned land for our own

The rivers we diverted, ditches we cut

But the land is only loaned


The silvery Nene was straightened and tamed

Its water running into drain and leam

First windmill sails pumped the water up

Then engines powered by steam

Now there are rules and regulations, sluices and locks

To show the water where to go

It’s measured and directed, pumped and abstracted

Allowed to rise, or kept low


When here were wetlands, rivers and lakes

The Fens were home to fish and fowl

There was fishing and eeling, skating on the mere

Recreation and a living for all

Now although the land is put to good use

And the fenland harvests provide for us all

There are changes in the wind, and the rich black soil erodes

Our plans need an overhaul


How will we preserve the Fens and all its creatures?

How will we grow enough food for everyone?

What must we do to find common ground

Between fenland, farm and town?


With the wetlands shrunk, many species lost

And human population continuing to grow

There are problems to solve, many things to learn

What the future holds, who can know?

But just as our ancestors shaped the land

Carved channels out, made the water flow uphill

The uphill struggles that we face

Can be overcome if we’ve a will


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