I cannot stop you tearing up the land;
Turn back the clock or stay your heedless hand;
No word of mine can still your crushing wheels;
My flesh and bone no match for your cold steel.
But what I can, I’ll do. And so I lay
This charm upon you and your deeds this day.
From sullied soil, let briar and bramble spring –
Let thistle burn, thorn scratch and nettle sting;
And when the summer sun warms earth and sky,
Come, adders, sharp of fang and cold of eye.
In every vehicle that you blithely ride
Let spiders big as saucers now reside;
And in the cabin where you take your rest
Bid hordes of wicked hornets build their nest.
Then let it rain and churn the clay to mire
To grab and grip and clog each helpless tyre;
And when the cries of rook-bands fill the air
May you hear mocking laughter everywhere.
Now let this doom hang heavy round your necks;
A right reward for him who rips and wrecks
Without regard or care. My rhyme is done.
But not the charm. Its work has just begun.
By law and conscience
Take up arms
Against this present menace.
All that remains
Is to occupy this ground
And do my bit
To show defiance
With my two fingers.
On such a day
A million words
Would fall far short:
A world of tongues
Could never conjure
Enough to say it all.
So I’ll content myself
With this short, bitter shot
Slammed in one
Chased with salt and lemon;
Taste the acid sting
And let it burn deep down.
They’ve given all our money to the banks
Who take the bonuses but not the blame;
They’ve added tens of thousands to the ranks
Of unemployed without a hint of shame.
They’ve dragged us into one unwanted war
After another, claiming every time
To be the bringers of the rule of law,
As if expenses fraud is not a crime.
And now they want to slap me with a fine
If I am caught with my dog off his lead.
There’s precious little left I can call mine;
My wants are few; this much alone I need.
We’re all in this together, so they say;
From where I stand, it doesn’t look that way.
Our town council is proposing new bye-laws that would force dogs to be on leads at ALL times on ALL council-owned land, including the woods I’ve frequently written about here. As a responsible owner, I absolutely agree that fouling is a public nuisance and utterly unacceptable: that’s why we ALWAYS pick up after The Hunting Dog. I also believe it’s a problem caused (as is so often the case) by a small, thoughtless minority, and that these rules won’t change their behaviour. The council clearly isn’t enforcing its existing anti-fouling laws, so quite how it’ll enforce these new ones – and at what cost – is anyone’s guess. I know this is an unusual choice of form for a protest, but what’s a sonnet if not the expresion of life’s great emotions and passions? Rant over. N.
A NEW LEAF?
I thought that I should never see
This triumph of democracy;
Our voices raised across the land
Forced ministers to stay their hand,
And cancel plans to sell our oaks
And other trees to greedy blokes
Who only see the beech and ash
And chestnut as a source of cash
And would have curbed our ancient right
To walk the woodlands. So in spite
Of pressures on the national purse
Our leaders paused, engaged reverse
And said that they had got it wrong
(As we had told them all along).
The law is made by fools, you see;
But only God can make a tree.
A follow-up to yesterday’s U-turn by the Coalition on its proposed national forestry sell-off. Alfred Joyce Kilmer’s poem ‘Trees’ has been parodied many, many times, most famously by Ogden Nash. I figured one more couldn’t hurt.