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Brute tractor

A monster was coming on at me,

Devouring the world, all I could see,

Such was its all-consuming presence,

That nothing else composed an absence.

Crashing there, pulverising closer.

A beast advanced over the border.


Now, sounds of the English countryside,

Herald a fresh hell of herbicide.

An incessant whine of brute machine

Counterpoising the crack, crunch and scream

Of advancing chains flailing hedges,

Even trees and all the quiet edges.

Fields once in early autumn slumber,

Bough and branch in myriad number,

Are beaten into low submission.

Heavy-handed ironbound precision

Bullies countryside's casual borders

Into tame and abased neat order.

Now reducing full forage hedgerows,

In all their blowsy carefree billows,

Into managed new factory walls;

As close as the jackboot tractor crawls.

Those linear woods, trashed in thoughtless

Haste, make a sad wake in wakes of mess.

These linear woods are all that's left

Of a landscape that is now bereft

Of the deciduous eternal

Hanging woods which once clothed the feral

Land from east to west, from south to north.

A greenwood cover of endless growth.

Now, ev'ry year hedges try anew,

To regrow once more and save a few.

Hawthorns! Their remembered sweet fragrance

In blossom clouds of creamy cadence,

But there they are, hacked back more and more

Till all that's left is jagged and raw.

They won't be laid traditionally.

Every advance drives on more fiercely

Into older and thicker timber,

Till the gross impact upon your ear

Is in due accord with the ravaged

Scene: wood and nerves are together shred.

Now, never mind the long standing tree.

And farmers won't see the bird or bee.

For what cannot be seen counts as nought.

Subtle lessons like these can't be taught

To those immured within tractor walls,

Or logged into cool persuasive malls.

Then his tea, in towered splendour, he sips.

And with insouciant fingertips

Nudges on hundreds of horsepower might,

Never giving one thought to the sight

Of tangled despoilment left behind

After the flailing chains' savage grind.

Now, with protection wrapped round his face,

Headphones musicking a deaf embrace,

To insulate the remote cabbed man

From all consequences of his plan.

So deafness mutates this crashing hell.

With never a witness left to tell.

Aye, the crashing sound above all else

Has no regard of pastoral sense.

It surely would dumbfound old hedgers

Thankfully safe now in quiet slumbers.

Would they swap craft's old occupation

For this coarse new manifestation?

Now, a poet wand'ring in Nature

Seeks his peace in this secret treasure;

For wind and song are quintessential;

Listen! And be mute deferential.

For there is peace and sweet harmony

In measuring life's geometry.

Still the brute tractor masticates on.

Jaws chewing; weight thrown about; and strong

Enough to pulverise any foe.

What hope can there be of tomorrow?

Yet wait, the pregnant buds still prepare

For to try once more another year.

Now the ogre leaves the margin'd stage

(And a poet in impotent rage!),

The hedging tree will lick its spirit.

And the only good to come of it,

If calm reflection matters a toss,

Is to help us value what we've lost.

© R M Meyer

North Devon, October 2018