Edmund Griffiths  

E d m u n d   G r i f f i t h s

Neolithic Revolution

Poet, we require you to sing of our time
as the sheep sees it or the jacketed herdsman.
We have never tracked a deer through the woods.
We have never patrolled the shore for limpets.
We have never gone out collecting sphagnum moss
to kindle a fire in the cave we were wintering in.
A charging aurochs we find simply distressing.
We protest against your employment of conventional rhythms
timed to the hoofbeats of Equus przewalskii
not to the swing of the reaper’s sickle;
and who can still be bothered to feign an interest
in your mumbled epics about fowling expeditions
that sloshed in the meres of forgettable Doggerland?
We’ve heard our fill of polite cadences
on bone clarinets from the poets of yesterday:
poet of tomorrow, the oaten reed
is the instrument that universal history has ground for you
on the unresting quern of the agricultural village.
We demand that you learn from the pristine geometry
of hedgerows, ditches, field systems,
and discover a stark unfamiliar beauty
in ripening barley that sways in the sunlight—
a vocabulary of symbols adequate to modernity
in the yearly cycles of lambing and harvest.