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An Ode to the Countryside

Originally posted 2018-12-10 12:29:36.

As I walk through the countryside, in the footsteps of Richard Jefferies, on the Downs, Meadows and in the Woodlands,  I glance up into the blue sky: a Red Kite glides into view; a Harrier sails past over the reedbeds; a Barn Owl hunts the Woodland edge; a Blackbird sings ... 

I wrote a song today - well some lyrics - written in frustration, anger and despair over the harm we are doing to our Planet, mostly down to human greed, ignorance, and uncaring disinterest.

My adaptation of ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ by Pete Seeger (1955) and Joe Hickerson (1960). A tad controversial but what the hell - I’m sure Pete Seeger would have approved ...

Where Have All The Flowers Gone

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
We have sprayed them every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the hedgerows gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the hedgerows gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the hedgerows gone?
Grubbed them out every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the woodlands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the woodlands gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the woodlands gone?
All cut down every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the green fields gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the green fields gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the green fields gone?
Houses built on every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the Skylark gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the Skylark gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the Skylark gone?
Gone to ‘Lark Rise’ every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the town parks gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the town parks gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the town parks gone?
A sea of litter every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the clear streams gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the clear streams gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the clear streams gone?
Putrid in perpetuem every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the sea birds gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the sea birds gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the sea birds gone?
‘cased in plastic every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
In backyard gardens every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

But not is all doom and gloom when I think of 20-30 pairs of Lapwing breeding regularly on a North Norfolk Farm and over 20% of the Corn Bunting population breeding on a single farm in Wiltshire. Montagu Harrier and Chough returning to breed in Cornwall. And of course the major success stories of Avocet, Egret and Bittern expanding their breeding range across the country.

And thank goodness I can still walk through the countryside, in the footsteps of Richard Jefferies, on the Downs Meadows and in the Woodlands, that inspired his outpourings in the ‘Story of My Heart’ or ‘Soul Life’ as he originally called it. And ramble along the lanes once walked and cycled by Edward Thomas in his ‘Pursuit of Spring’.

And no one can take away those special, beautiful, fleeting moments when, glancing up into the blue sky a Red Kite glides into view; a harrier sails past over the reedbeds; a Barn Owl hunts the Woodland edge; a Blackbird sings as I hang out the washing ... An Ode to the Countryside!

Copyright

The copyright to the original song is held by the Bicycle Music Company Ltd. I have repeatedly written to them seeking permission to publish my adaption on my blog. They have not replied. It is not my intention to use it in a public performance, as a song, but to use it as a poem to inform, educate and promote awareness of the harm we are doing to our Countryside, and for no other purpose.

Artist Credit

The featured image entitled - "Morning has broken"- is from a painting by Yorkshire artist Liz Marsh (Clarke). This fantasy painting celebrates the joy of a new day with a few references to a well known nursery rhyme ...

Here is a link to her Gallery:

The Elm Gallery

Liz is is a mixed media artist whose work, which encompasses flowers, foliage, birds, animals, landscapes and mystical themes, is characterised by strong, vibrant colours. Her paintings are inspired by the force and beauty of the natural world and the pure joy of colour. Some of them have mystical or spiritual elements in them, or have a slightly surreal quality - “pigments of the imagination”. ...

Do take a look they are stunningly beautiful.

PLEASE NOTE: This image is from an original painting by Liz Marsh who owns the copyright of the original and all prints made from it. It is featured here with her permission.

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Josie Holford
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It’s always good to think of Edward Thomas staying with his Welsh railway working relatives in Swindon and walking in the footsteps of Richard Jefferies. From Coate Water along Hay Lane to Liddington and the Ridgeway … and beyond.