by Richard Jones, UKLepidopertists
From Wynyards Gap the livelong day We beat afoot the Northward way We had travelled times before. The sunblaze burning on our backs Our shoulders sticking to our packs By Fosseway fields and turnpike tracks, We skirted sad Sedgemoor. Full twenty miles we hunted on Yet never glut our eye upon The rarest butterfly. But as the sun drew down to west We climbed the toilsome Polden crest and saw of landskip sights the best The inn that gleamed nearby. We ducked the porch, pushed hard the door T'ween low ceiling and rough flagged floor An old man sat alone. He slow snuffed out the candle flame The sun’s rays caught a silken skein Beckoning smoke through a cracked pane. He coughed with dusty tone. "Oh look those green remembered hills Are dying and my pulse faint stills They just don’t look the same. As when this lost boy's feet did tread Full flowery slopes to clouds that lead Towards a soft sun, ripening red Like when young Tom first came. Down there did the Ash copse bright blow, Now slimy stumps a grave shadow Black as this inglenook. These hills were never fit for plough Pumped with poison full to the brow It’s only me lives up here now. And I just sit and look. The Bee Orchid, I was beguiled, And fields of geese from Northlands wild Where icy air ascends. I’d show you where the Sorrels swayed Goldcrests gathered in pines and played Threading needles of light in shade. Yes, they were all my friends." He stood and pointed straight away. From the window framed dying day A dust devil arose. “Autumn’s rains had washed out the earth Flooding floods with the after birth The history of lost lives worth And then all-time froze Two months gripped in the jaws of a vice Then the sun appeared, paradise Bad times were forgotten. The heat grew taller every day Dry baked the soil by mid of May And there you saw it sucked away, Leaving roots a rotten! The goodness gone no thistle grows To flower, feed, seed where wind blows, No Goldfinches no Bees. The fluid rainsong’s never heard Full fluted from the wood’s Blackbird And even dusk’s Rooks, not one word Echoes through the bare trees”. “We seek out the rare Butterfly, But just a Meadow Brown blew by On no bloom alighted. A male Large Blue was last here seen This very same week in Twenty Nineteen, Nectaring the sweetest scene!” I beam. His worn eyes ignited. “Flying sparks of electric blue Clouds of them up and flew From the cushioned Thyme. What tragedy has happened here That made such beauty disappear A pall be-drapes, decay hangs drear Whose guilty of this crime?” He looked at me accusingly. “You’re from the Twentieth century And have blood on your hand. Grab the ground plant our green flag furled, Lies and greed spin this planet pearled But the real world’s the natural world The truth’s told by the land! Add you voice to earth’s rising chant Do what the politicians can’t Yes, you the outsider.” Opening the cupboard dull with mould He fetched us gleaming liquid gold We shared the harvest of cold, Sweet Somerset cider.