Litany of the Meadows

Champ_de_colza_Côte-d'Or_Bourgogne_avril_2014 Wikipedia Commons
Oil-seed Rape, Wikipedia Commons

The 7th of July formed a tide mark in the UK’s environmental policy. A request to use bee-killing neonicotinoids on 5% of oil-seed rape crops put forward by the National Farmers’ Union was approved by the Expert Committee for Pesticides.

This was controversial not only because it could lead to the loss of two-thirds of wild bumblebee queens in the neighbouring areas but because the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture prevented publication of minutes from a meeting in May, where the ECP argued against lifting the ban, until the decision was pushed through. This was to prevent environmental campaigners from lobbying ministers.

It was later revealed the pesticide manufacturers Bayer and Synerga, whose produce will be used on the oil-seed rape, were the only external representatives present at the meeting on July the 7th. This decision was clearly made with capital at the forefront and demonstrates our Tory government’s acquiescence with major companies at the expense of truth and democratic processes as well as their refusal to acknowledge scientific evidence.

The tides have turned. The hard work of scientists investigating the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder and of environmental campaigners has been reversed. This decision will lead to the deaths of innumerable wild bees and will have a harmful impact on flowering crops and wild flowers in the vicinity of the pesticide treated oil-seed rape. It also opens the door to similar treatment of crops across the UK.

As a Friends group leader who has been working hard to cultivate a wildflower meadow in my local valley to provide a food source for bees I was furious when I found out. I have signed petitions from 38 Degrees but know this is not enough to turn the tides back upon this cataclysmic decision.

For now as a poet and awenydd I share these poems which give voice to the intrinsic value of meadows and bees, their worth to the gods, and to the threat of their extinction. I imagine a time when those responsible ‘hear the litany of the meadows with wonderment and fear’.


Unsung Meadow

Unsung meadow
with your summer snowfall
wild carrot, buttercup and nettle
time is slowing down.

Unsung meadow
with your summer snowfall
plantain, clover and yellow rattle
world is slowing down.

In my summer eiderdown
time and world are slowing down
sleep easy, sleep easy, sleep easy
unsung meadow sings.


Litany of the Meadows

The meadows have been shorn
in a rain of grass heads and sedges
tinted with sorrel, brown-white plantain
and shredded folds of yellow rattle
that never had the chance to seed,
now cut in twain, discarded.

I want to repeat a litany
for every spider, ant and beetle
that lost its home, or legs,
for the dead and empty carapaces,
for the orange tip, cabbage white, and fritillary,
for all the bees returning to dried and empty flowers.

Now I know why we no longer
hear the voice of grasshopper or cricket.
There is no place for the froghopper
to leave a gauze of cuckoo spit.
All her nymphs have been
trampled to froth.

I wonder how long
this thoughtlessness can go on
before they rise in strands and stalks,
marching through dream with the hum and buzz of insects
and we finally hear the litany of the meadows
with wonderment and fear.


Take Wing My Queen

We are the bees of the invisible.
We wildly collect the honey of the visible,
to store in the great golden hive of the invisible.’

Let us depart my queen,
sisters kiss farewell to the flowers.
Sink your long tongues
into the obituaries of stamens,
one last taste, forsake the namelessness
of this world ruled by drones.

She who builds creatively
finds no nourishment in nectar grown
on the ramparts of technology,
in the cracks of mechanical arms
snatching endlessly
at the noctilucent hive of the unknown.

Hives empty, baskets heavy,
bearing honey on furred bodies
to a sanctuary of wax and comb,
invisible wisdom to hum
until meadow flowers
recall sweet songs again,
take wing my queen, let us be gone.


I was not dead when you took me

from a wild uncultivated land
where I swayed in leaves,
walked naked amongst meadow flowers.

Now they are spraying the fields with poison,
green-fly drop like itching stars
on my searing skin.
Writhing worms haunt pink bodies into my dreams.

When cabbage stem flea beetles depart in a fleeing sheet
and worker bees deadened of appetite
lament their dying queen,

when I collect their poor parched bodies
from the dusty ground like rain
will you take them in?

When I wither and faint wilted unable to seed,
skirts ripped from me like precious petals,
when I lie empty and barren
at the end of the earth,
when I am dead will you return for me?

*Words spoken by Creiddylad (a Brythonic goddess of flowers and fertility) to Gwyn ap Nudd (a Brythonic god of the underworld).

11 thoughts on “Litany of the Meadows

  1. This is such a shame, especially when there are so many grass roots organisations working very hard for more biodiversity… Your poems make me sad, but they are bittersweet in their beauty, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Have you considered a particularly filidecht approach on this, and doing a satire (in the ancient, ask-the-cosmos-to-forsake-these-offenders sense, not the modern ha-ha sense) against these ignorant fucks for their offenses? If you’d like to coordinate efforts in that regard, let me know…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Given that we’re talking “rape” here, The Rape of the Lock comes to mind. I find some thrill in the image of the souls of queen bees stinging CEO arses as they sat down to exercise their stock options. Not to put any ideas in the hives, of course – that would be naughty.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So beautiful, and thank-you, Lorna, for giving them voice. I know how much it hurts to feel them slipping away. The only recourse I have left is to offer them a place in my heart. I sense that women have deeper methods – I hope that you’re finding a way to share them with each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My two global issues are bee safety and ready inexpensive access to reasonable amounts of clean water.

    Benn signing petitions, writing letters, and spreading the word.

    Liked by 1 person

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