The Water Mill

I’ve been feeling sort of blah and uninspired lately when it comes to writing.  However, I did come across a poem tonight that I liked and feel is inspiring, so I will post it.  I hope you enjoy.


The Water Mill

Listen to the water mill through the livelong day;
                How the clicking of the wheel wears the hours away.
Languidly the autumn wind stirs the withered leaves;
                On the field the reapers sing, binding up the sheaves;
And a proverb haunts my mind, and as a spell is cast,
                “The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.”

 Autumn winds revive no more leaves strewn o'er earth and main.
               The sickle never more shall reap the yellow, garnered grain;
And the rippling stream flows on - tranquil, deep and still,
                Never gliding back again to the water mill.
Truly speaks the proverb old, with a meaning vast;
                “The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.”

O, the wasted hours of life that has swiftly drifted 
                O, the good we might have done - gone, lost without a sigh
Love that we might once have saved by a single kindly word
                Thoughts conceived, but ne'er expressed- perishing unpenned,
Take the proverb to thy soul - take and clasp it fast:
                “The mill will never grind again with the water that has passed.”

O, love thy God and fellow man, thyself consider last;
For come it will when thou must scan dark errors of the past.
And when the fight of life is o'er and earth recedes from view
And heaven in all its glories shines
“Midst the good, the pure, the true,”
Then you will see more clearly the proverb, deep and vast:
“The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.”

Sarah Doudney (1843-1923)



9 thoughts on “The Water Mill

  1. Greetings. Great thought to ponder. When a day is gone it will never be again. I pray that we all would use each remaining day to its fullest. (I needed to read this)

    Have a gret day in Christ.


  2. Thanks so much for having this available!
    She also wrote (The Christian’s “Goodnight”).

    In searching for “The Water Mill” tonight , there was a statement found that she wrote this
    ~1858 (when she was fifteen.)

    Thanks for sharing this, one of my most valued Poems!

  3. I first heard “The Water Mill” by Sarah Doudney on a BBC cassette, back in the early 1990’s. I was highly touched by it, so wrote it out, and then put it in my personal files at home. It’s good to know that someone else out there likes Sarah’s poem, but I wonder why there are two different sets of birth-death dates for her on the web. Yours shows (1843-1923), and shows (1841-1926). Thanks to Shaun for sharing that Sarah wrote it in 1858. Like Shaun, this poem is one of my most valued poems.

    I mistakenly thought I heard the BBC attribute this as an eleventh century poem, which would put her in the 1200’s. She is in the 19th century, of course. Again, thank you for sharing Sarah’s poem with the world, and may God bless her words, whether she wrote them at age 15 or age 17, or whenever. It is indeed a poem for the ages.

    Hello Nathan. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad you enjoy this poem.

  4. I am 91` years old and when I was a little girl this was my fathers favorite poem. the lesson of the watermill, At that time it was set to music and my father would play it often for me.Years ago I lost it so you can see how happy I am to find it again. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.


    1. Hi Lucile. I’m so glad you were able to find this poem which was a part of your childhood. Sure would be neat if you were able to find a recording of it set to music too. I would be interested in hearing that. Thanks so much for stopping by today.

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