Not so blithe now

I entered three poems for the Rialto/RSPB poetry competition but, not surprisingly, none of them won a prize.

I’ve always liked Shelley, red Shelley, for his lyricism but also for being a campaigner and an angry one at that.  If he were back with us he might (or might not) write this:


Not so blithe these days

By By Alfred Clint (died 1883), after Amelia Curran (died 1847), and Edward Ellerker Williams (died 1822) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Hail to thee blithe spirit
Bird you’ve always been
That o’er mead or wheat field
Sings on high, unseen.

Robert, Will’am, Alfred
Would’ve known you well;
Carol Ann and Andrew
Still hearken to your tale.

Alauda now is quieter,
arvensis? Not each one.
Plummets now your index,
As you, when song is done.

Tougher still and tougher
Ever is your dance,
Pesticides and silage
Give you little chance.

Lower still and lower
Does your own graph fall
Facts are there abounding
But who will hear your call?

Cockle, flower and bunting,
Harvest mouse and hare,
From on high you watch them
Diminish everywhere.

By Alpsdake (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Symbol of the rural,
Symbol of our greed;
Much reduced songster
Singing of your need.

Feed the world! says Peter.
More for less! cries Jim.
No-one heeds the skylark,
Never mind to him.

Strasbourg mouths do chatter,
Brussels ears are deaf,
Who will hear this songster
Bird at its last breath?

Hail to thee red Shelley!
You can see the trap,
Hurry back to haunt them
‘Til they reform the CAP



Notes: Peter is just a random name for a farmer; Jim is just a random name for a(n ex-) Defra Minister; Robert,  Will’am, Alfred, Andrew and Carol Ann are all Poets Laureate; cockle, flower and bunting are examples of farmland wildlife that all can be preceded with ‘corn’; the CAP is the Common Agricultural Policy.


9 Replies to “Not so blithe now”

  1. Labour’s Final Solution

    The dark eleventh hour
    Draws on and sees us sold
    For every evil power
    We fight against of old.
    Jealousy, class and hate,
    Oppression wrong and greed
    Are loosed to rule our fate,
    By New Labour’s act and deed.

    The faith in which we stand
    The laws we made and guard
    Our honour, lives and land
    Are given for reward
    To thieving hands by night,
    To rambler’s boots by day,
    To folly, sloth and spite,
    And we are thrust away

    The blood our fathers spilt
    Our love, our toils our pains,
    Are counted as for guilt,
    And only bind our chains.
    Before the country’s eyes,
    The traitor claims his price.
    What need of further lies?
    We are the sacrifice.

    The terror, threats and dread
    In market, heath and field –
    We know when all is all is said
    We perish if we yield.
    Believe we dare not boast
    One Law, one Land, one Throne
    We stand to pay the price
    We shall not fall alone

    Based on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Ulster 1912’ – written in response to the then government’s creation of the Parliament Act – re-worded by Peter Brady (2004) in response to New Labour’s use of same Act.

  2. and the last few verses from John Clare’s ode to the Skylark, as added contrast..

    As free from danger as the heavens are free
    From pain and toil, there would they build and be,
    And sail about the world to scenes unheard
    Of and unseen—Oh, were they but a bird!
    So think they, while they listen to its song,
    And smile and fancy and so pass along;
    While its low nest, moist with the dews of morn,
    Lies safely, with the leveret, in the corn.

  3. I too was going to enter a short poem for the contest Mark, it was considered infantile 🙂


  4. Perhaps Edward Lear might now write:

    Now that same old man with a beard
    Said it is now very weird
    I remember not when
    Either a lark or a wren
    Last made its nest in my beard! 🙁

  5. Hi Mark

    Many thanks for this !

    I wondered if you would display some of my ‘tribal’ verse.

    Gert’s come up with John Clare – my favourite rural poet

    Indeed – I’ve got two (new) copies of John Clare’s Biography – Jonathan Bate (600 pages)

    If you think of a “competition” whatever – I’m happy to past one to your winner – confidentiality ensured etc

    And I owe Douglas a response (when permitted) – perhaps he’ll win?


  6. THERE’S a whisper down the field where the year has shot her yield,
    And the ricks stand grey to the sun,
    Singing: “Over then, come over, for the bee has quit the clover,
    “And your English summer’s done.”

    From a grateful farmer after another years harvest.

  7. Shelley’s poem was mistyped at the printers, and it has stuck like that ever since.

    The original version was about twitching and began: “Hail to thee Blyth’s Pipit…”

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