We that are hedgerow folk

In the wake of alarm about Britain, here is CS Lewis with two alarming (and alarmed) poems. Lewis' poetry is little regarded now, but he produced some very clever and inventive verse, much of it celebrating what seems lost or leaving and lamenting what's arriving or arrived.

Lines During a General Election

Their threats are terrible enough, but we could bear
All that; it is their promises that bring despair.
If beauty, that anomaly, is left us still,
The cause lies in their poverty, not in their will.
If they had power ('amenities are bunk'), conceive
How their insatiate gadgetry by this would leave
No green, nor growth, nor quietude, no sap at all
In England from The Land's-End to the Roman Wall.
Think of their roads - broad as the road to Hell - by now
Murdering a million acres that demand the plough,
The thick-voiced Tannoy blaring over Arthur's grave,
And all our coasts one Camp till not the tiniest wave
Stole from the beach unburdened with its festal scum
Of cigarette-ends, orange-peel, and chewing gum.
Nor would one island's rape suffice. Their visions are
Global; they mean the desecration of a Star;
Their happiest fancies dwell upon a time when Earth,
Flickering with sky-signs, gibbering with mechanic mirth,
One huge celestial charabanc, will stink and roll
Through patient heaven, subtopianized from pole to pole.


The Condemned

There is a wildness still in England that will not feed
In cages; it shrinks away from the touch of the trainer's hand,
Easy to kill, not easy to tame. It will never breed
In a zoo for the public pleasure. It will not be planned.

Do not blame us too much if we that are hedgerow folk
Cannot swell the rejoicings at this new world you make -
We, hedge-hogged as Johnson or Borrow, strange to the yoke
As Landor, surly as Cobbett (that badger), birdlike as Blake.

A new scent troubles the air - to you, friendly perhaps -
But we with animal wisdom have understood that smell.
To all our kind its message is Guns, Ferrets, and Traps,
And a Ministry gassing the little holes in which we dwell.