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Death of an unwanted farmer by Glyn Hughes



Down in the village the in-comers
drive assault-craft and jungle-invaders.
Well, they’re just motorcars, really — the rest is merely their dream.
Polished-on-tarmac cars
ready for school-runs through the Spring showers
and other hazards of cottage life.
Too wide for our lanes, they shunt and rev and quarrel,
especially with Harry in his slummy Ford —
carrier of sheep, straw bales,
and a compost of beer-cans, fag-ash and The Sunday Sport.

Harry on his moor hates all the strangers,
though most of what he knows is their bullying cars,
and their maddening lightheartedness
that he calls, ‘only playing at it,’
which is part of their love of his enemy, the Pennine moor.
Hates all walkers and their undisciplined dogs.
He barbed-wires the footpaths, and would landmine them if he could.

But did he ever contemplate,
as they do, the light’s dance over the moor,
the lapwing’s down-sky plunge of rapture,
or the river of delight that was, before he fouled it,
the stream by his door?
Their frisson of space collapses into what he’s despised:
soured land, ugly erosions,
old quarries filled with rubbish —
Harry’s spiritual, unshared home.
‘Hikers and horsey folk this way,’ reads the daub
on his barn wall — pointing into his midden.


Backslider, antinomian
sprung from a line of chapel-attenders,
at night he drinks in The Headless Woman.
(Much the best kind of woman, he says.)
It’s same as a say!
With the lefties, poufters and bossy women
that have taken over the teevee and the wireless …
what about men of my age what have fought …

Afterwards he indulges what he believes to be illegal pleasures —
in his farm’s filth listening on short-wave radio
to taxi-drivers, ambulances, fire and police calls
with no speech of his own but a
growl like stones down a scree
rolling through silence
into darkness …

Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2002

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