Up above the echoing green,
Are the downs where skylarks team,
Hills that roll like Yorkshire’s dales,
The mills replaced by farmer’s bales.
Risen up from the valley floor,
Cut by the river, running to the shore,
Shining like an untied shoelace,
Beholden to the tide’s slow pace.
Heather bushes crown the downs,
Due-ponds sit pristinely round,
And lambs which drink in the shallows,
Know nothing of the butcher’s gallows.
The grass kept cropped by the sheep
Absorb their tears as the ewes’ weep,
And over it and over it,
Pound mares with metal feet.
The race course like an artery,
Is now in need of surgery,
Its green hair patchily sown,
Chalk scalp white like marrow bone.
But now the horses run no more;
They sicken behind a stable door,
So voles and crows own the course,
The land split between them and the gorse.
The long backbone of the downs
So immune to the clamouring towns,
Bends low to them by the sea,
No longer tall but stooping, elderly.
And rising up in their stead,
Red eyed and malevolent,
The crimson stare of the incinerator,
Warns nature you’ve met your maker.