David Lewis Paget
Natural Man - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The man I saw at the edge of the wood
Had flowers, twined in his hair,
His jerkin was both green and ragged
His legs were brown and bare,
The boots he wore were a journeyman's
Had seen much better a day,
He watched the encroaching housing
Then he turned in sadness away.
I found him later, deep in a dell
Where he sat on a fallen tree,
His head was cradled, deep in his hands
In a picture of misery,
I said: ‘What seems to ail you, friend,
Is there anything I can do? '
He muttered something under his breath,
‘It's almost too late for you! '
I sat and faced him, sat on the stump
Of a tree that was felled before,
Cut down for somebody's firewood
By a rattling steel chainsaw,
He said, ‘You're just the last of the crew
Destroying the lay of the land,
There once was a time when the world was new,
We tended the earth by hand.'
He reached on down for a fist of dirt
That was rich, and dark and brown,
Then let it slip through his fingers
Slowly, back to the fertile ground,
He raised a finger, ‘listen to that
It's the cruel sound of fate,
You call it urban development,
I call it the sound of hate! '
The bulldozers were felling the trees
At the further end of the wood,
I could hear the shrieking, creaking cries
As the trees came down for good.
‘This forest covered a hundred miles
When the lord would ride to hounds,
But he always left the trees to stand
In the Royal Hunting Grounds.'
‘And men would cherish the crops they grew,
They would reap what they had earned,
For man had risen up out of the earth
And to earth he would return.
But then you came with your railway lines
And you cut the land in two,
You dug canals through the pasture fine
And as nature died, you grew.'
‘The land was filling with engineers
With iron and steel they toiled,
They had no thought for the scenery
For every scene, they spoiled,
They'd lost that link with the humble earth
That their fathers had before,
But gloried in their cities and towns
As they linked up, shore to shore.'
‘And here you come to destroy the rest
By way of your huge machines,
To tear apart at the tender heart
Of a world now lost in dreams.'
The man then stood, turned to the wood
And waved, was lost to view,
‘I trust you'll enjoy your new estate
When nature has done with you! '
7 February 2013
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