Thursday, March 4, 2010
Some small space where the world does not intrude
must preclude the well quilted countryside
of large estates and busy tenant farms,
fenced off by hedge and ditch or sharpened wire.
But, before the cunning of the chemist
had improved seed and beast to feed the world,
there was a brief respite when butterflies
and birds adorned the fields on summer days.
Now the hand of profit lies on the land,
forbidding the slightest impediment
to the optimum exploitation of
every rude clod of earth and grain of sand.
Never have so many been fed by so few,
so who dare oppose this economic
point of view, where great machines sally forth
to till and reap the bounty of the earth.
The swarthy swain and his coy shepherdess,
long since replaced by tourists on a bus,
have no place behind computer screens
that display rainfall or the price of beans.
Even now, beneath some Hawthorne hedgerow,
grasses flattened by youth's illicit love
hide, secreted in an empty matchbox,
their weeping joys within a plastic glove.
The sentimental poet overstates
the bucolic pleasures of past ages
when bestial toil on empty bellies vies
with our present sybaritic luxuries.
How easily, the memory excludes
the painful nettle sting, the bramble scratch,
and in its stead recalls the glory of
a Celandine upon a Mallow patch.
Nature's aboriginal plan gave way
to the unremitting toil of calloused
hands, nurturing their world according to
the bucolic religion of rustic man.
When the pall of winter sits on the land,
frail nature's face assumes those sickly hues
that hide the inner powers we hope withstand
the claims of greedy bankers and their dues.
Let the poet recall spring's kindly face,
when nature's great mistress is past her best
there will remain the memory of her grace,
though industry has taken all the rest.