Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Ruins of history – or history in ruins?

January 5, 2017 Leave a comment


January 5th: a day of glorious sunshine for me to stagger into on my rocky road to rehabilitation from my present illness. Lucky me has thousands of year of heritage to walk past on one of my local walks, and today’s photo shows off the impressive ruins of the Norman fort within the ancient Roman walls of Pevensey Castle. Always a great reminder of the rise and fall of empires, and within my own lifetime the British Empire has come to an end. Now the world apparently has superpowers, although what the difference is between ‘superpowers’ and ’empires’, I’m not sure! But of course, a superpower, no matter how strong, does not have the power to stop the natural world changing dramatically as a result of global warming, not even a superpower led by a reality TV superstar like Donald Trump.

But, it’s not just Trump who doesn’t understand climate change. A huge slice of the US population also doesn’t, including a large number of powerful politicians, who not only openly deny the findings of climate science but also launch attacks upon the integrity of climate scientists themselves, making all sorts of accusations about them without any evidence and even trying to withhold funding from essential climate research programmes. The attacks continue even though the latest research corroborates even more strongly the data climate scientists have accumulated over the last few decades, data which shows that global warming continues apace.

So it’s no surprise that the Arctic, that “giant refrigerator that helps make our world a viable place to live”, continues to show a record low amount of ice for this time of year, and that the Greenland ice sheet is continuing to melt at an ever faster rate. The loss of Arctic sea ice is now so great that the recently knighted sailor, David Hempleman-Adams, and his team, completed a sailing trip around the Arctic in about 3 months, a trip that would have taken up to 3 years some decades ago! And what does Trump now want to do in the Arctic? Team up with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to drill for oil in the Arctic, thereby exacerbating the very climate change that is leading to the destruction of the Arctic ecosystem in the first place, as well as leading to global catastrophic climate change if the Arctic oil drilling goes ahead unrestrained!

Walking past peaceful ruins – thinking of present ruins

Of ecosystems, climate systems, ocean systems –

Past blends with present and future concerns.

Everything passes away, even empires,

But now even history may pass away –

Strange, the urge to record the end of history endures…




New Year’s Day mutterings on the gathering storms…

January 1, 2017 Leave a comment


On this New Year’s Day, I contemplate with bemusement the fact that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States in 20 days time. So cometh a climate denier who has appointed a cabinet full of climate deniers, all committed to the unrestricted exploitation of fossil fuel reserves despite the fact that the world needs to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

All this against a backdrop of climate change impacts worsening by the month, highlighted by the record low sea ice extent in the Arctic at this very moment (as I explored today by reading Paul Beckwith’s latest blog post on the subject). The Arctic death spiral accelerated significantly in 2016 and is continuing into 2017, making the prospect of an ice-free Arctic in summer within the next few years a very real possibility, with massive consequences for the stability of climate systems across the world whilst certainly accelerating the overall rate of global warming .

If I were a novelist, I couldn’t have made this scenario up: a climate denier becoming the most powerful man on Earth at the very moment that the world’s climate system has passed so many tipping points and is hurtling towards a rate of climate change impossible for humanity to control, or adapt to fast enough. So instead of writing a novel, I’ll just record, in diary-like fashion, each day of this wild ride that we’re all embarking on. Just being an unflinching witness and archivist to this awesome, momentous change in human affairs is a challenge in itself as indeed  – as W.B.Yeats would say – a “terrible beauty is born”.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and one ironic side-effect of my growing interest in climate change and its impacts is a renewed interest in nature and all its works, as well as a greater desire to immerse myself emotionally and spiritually within it and to express my feelings about it. So I shall endeavour to post one photo a day, taken on that day, of my interaction with nature and to write something creative about it. Today’s photo is of a scene along one of the lanes in my home village that I often walk along, looking across the hedge to the Pevensey Levels beyond.

Walking under dull, dour skies on this New Year’s Day,

I contemplate the destiny of the coming year, the world, and myself.

No clarity, no comfort comes, but I walk on anyway,

Lulled  and soothed by my rhythmic strides into the sodden dusk

Drizzling with thoughts of the comforts of home and hearth,

And shelter from the gathering storms…


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The sacrilege of slaughtered nature

As today is the first day of the #30DaysWild challenge set by The Wildlife Trusts, I thought I’d publish one of my poems for the first time online. It’s a poem about the wildlife in my village that I’ve come to love over the years. In particular, the nature that is to be found along Peelings Lane, the only country lane still left within the village.


It is an ancient lane, still rich in biodiversity, but under constant threat from a myriad of housing developments planned for the village. I and many others in the village successfully saw off a very inappropriate housing development for the lane back in 2014 when the local planning committee was persuaded by our well-developed arguments to refuse the development In the afterglow of that victory I wrote this poem:

Peelings Lane


Grandiloquent, ancient oaks, their sun-shot arches of greenery

echoing to the peals of evensong

calling vergers to their vespers,

framing my regal peramble down the ancient sunken lane

limned by verdant wildflower verges,

sweet-smelling in the salty sea breeze

rippling tall meadow grasses beyond ancient hedgerows,

riotous with rumbustious bees, birds, butterflies.


If ever I have felt a sense of place,

it is here, now, in this lane

down which the Roman legions marched into Pevensey,

down which the Saxons sought their Sussex shore,

down which the Normans claimed their spoils of war,

down which the smugglers stole along,

down which the drovers and their livestock plodded,

down which I follow forefathers of yore.


T.S.Eliot, speaking of another lane in another time,

trumpeted “History is now and England”.

I say it softly to myself now,

in this lane, in this village, in this, my England,

and I pray, in my own secular way,

“let this ancient byway stay a heritage highway,

free from the menace of brick and mortar,

saved from the sacrilege of slaughtered nature”.


Battle-cry for the coming revolution?

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve just composed a little ditty for our times:

The banks will fall,
The people will rise.
Tribunes all, hear the call:
No more lies, no more lies.

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