And I know it. Hope I don’t blow it. Words of Bob Dylan. Which is by way of saying thank you to everyone who responded to my last piece on this site. I was suggesting that conservation needed a great poet: these nice people said, Simon, baby, that poet is you.
I wish it was. But I really wasn’t fishing for compliments, lovely though they are: there’s a difference between writing a nice paragraph here and there and being, say, TS Eliot. The world needs The Waste Land remastered for our new century, as humanity gets ever more efficient at the task of planet-killing.
Yet there are whispers of hope even in The Waste Land: and I mean that in the sense of Eliot’s poem and in the wider sense of the world we live in. The other day, out and about in Norfolk with my friend Carl Chapman of Wildlife Tours and Education, I saw cranes on five separate occasions, 19 individuals in all. You can’t despair while there are still cranes in England: and surely the Hyacinth Girl in Eliot’s poem is worth living for.
So here’s a piece of great conservation poetry that already exists: but then Gerard Manley Hopkins was always ahead of his time, and not just in his poetic method. Here’s the last verse from the poem Inversnaid. Here’s a real poet.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness ? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.