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The old naturalist


The grasshoppers were silent over the cricket field,
And I no longer hear crickets up the village hill,
Nor drifting through open windows from a summer verge,
Yet all the young people tell me that they are there still.

Not only do I hear less, I find I see less too.
So as in all I see the fault’s my deficiency;
Yet fade as I do, there are, we know, fewer singers.
They have faded too but, alas, all too finally.

Bats that once I could hear, though not meant for human ears,
Have had their nurseries removed: ergo human need;
Dead trees cut down – tidied up – behold the strimmer age.
Why not just kill the bats? This now seems to be decreed.


While the Spanish cicadas maintain their deafening song,
Which I once thought was static electricity
Issuing forth from trailing meandering cables
Be-stringing wonky pylons that net the whole country.

Is the cicada the old man’s grasshopping cricket?
If so, take me back to Spain where I can once again
Believe that all I hear is all there really is
And need doubt no more that everything is just the same.

As braggart youngsters we trust and don’t doubt our senses;
Not at all, for all we hear and all we see is all
Inside our boundaries - all we know and do proclaim
Indeed, but the whole world is known only by our walls.


For all the old people whom the world will never see -
Everything and everyone inside our boundaries -
And I am left to reflect they’re all seen personally.

Oh, it is well the old naturalist is happy too,
Unaware, lest kept pointed out, what he does not see;
He’s content within his own reduced parameters:
A world, a world entire with no extra subtlety.

It seems to me that botany might be a better path;
Beside the trail, down the road, along the crickets’ verge,
Flowers and plants don’t disappear whatever time of year,
Nor do they hide, fly or flee, and names duly emerge.

© RM Meyer
Braeintra, August 2021