ICS12/10759 View of Tamar Bridge from the East c1967 (Picture courtesy of Charles Woolf Slide Collection, University of Exeter Penryn Campus. Copyright Estate of Charles Woolf)

Poetry: The Source of the Tamar

August 1, 2015

Published in a collection of Cornish myths and legends this short poem tells of the sweet and lowly tale of how the River Tamar came into existence. 


Tamara was a one time sprite

Before man had invented time

The daughter of two troglodites

Who found their darkened cave sublime

Within the earth they shunned the light

And would not share their child’s delight

As she ran free

Most joyously

Across the moor towards the sea


Soon upon these carefree outings

She was joined by two young giants

Taw and Tavy, where her pouting

Lips and eyes that sparked defiance

Had the giants’ love-buds sprouting

Had them self-penned sonnets of spouting

As she ran free

Most Joyously

Across the moor towards the sea


Both the love-struck boobies doted

On Tamara to distraction

Begged that one of them be voted

Favourite but her reaction

Was to say – and here I’ve quoted:

“Both of you should be devoted

While I run free

Most Joyously

Across the moor towards the sea”


Just then, this ‘tete a tete atete’

Was interrupted by her father

Who claimed: “You’ve stayed out far too late”

But Tamara said: “I’d rather

Stay some more, I’ve come to hate

Our dreary cave – up here is great”

Where she ran free

Most joyously

Across the moor towards the sea


At this her father gave a yell –

Directing it at Taw and Tavy

Cast a universal spell

Put them to sleep and with a wave he

Turned Tamara in that dell

Into a stream – that burbling fell –

And then he ran free

Most joyously

Across the moor towards the sea


The giants woke and ran home screaming

Where poor Tavy’s warlock father

Realised there’s no redeeming

Tavy from his love-lorned lather

So he satisfied his dream and turned his son into a stream –

Then he ran free

Most joyously

Across the moor

And joined Tamara

Thence together to the sea


What though was poor Taw’s position

In despair for his lost lover?

He too sought out a wise magician – (enter magician)

Who transformed him, like the other

Once again the liquid lover

Flowed in search of intersection

But too late, poor Taw discovered

He flowed in the wrong direction!

While they ran free

Most joyously

Across the moor towards the sea –

Though near their source

Apart their mouths

North lay his course


Photograph –

CS12/10759 View of Tamar Bridge from the East c1967 (Picture courtesy of Charles Woolf Slide Collection, University of Exeter Penryn Campus. Copyright Estate of Charles Woolf)

Tony Cottrell

Tony is self employed and lives in Polruan in Cornwall.