Poetic Licence

A Countryman's millennium leaflet
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The Independent Culture
A government leaflet warning against stockpiling food and banknotes is to be delivered to every home in the country to calm fears about the millennium bug. The multimillion- pound campaign will be launched next month

The gulls will not fall from the sky

It's rare that they forget to fly

And out along the estuary

The tide will still come creeping in

To swell the saltmarsh from below

And this is all you need to know.

The month will have a different name

But dawn will come up much the same

The dog fox slinking to his den

And ignorant of time, hears not

The distant engine as it stops

But vixens calling, in the copse.

It's men wedged into cubby-holes

With cupboards full of toilet rolls

And cans of peas and candle stocks

Their plastic bags of ten-pound notes

Stuffed into some old training shoe,

Who'll tremble for a day or two.

But trees will reassure the eye

Still stark against the morning sky

The great horse-chestnut looming out

Its buds as sticky and as tight

Above the pleachers in the hedge

Braced wind-bent at the field edge.

The sun, the moon and all the stars

Our books, pianos and guitars

Will all remain unchanged and good

And we must fill what gaps we can

While winter drags its heels to spring

We ants, with all our scuttling.

More sombre men will risk their health

As guardians of our cyber-wealth

And sleepless at computer screens

Despair or cheer as case may be

But when the night has passed away

The chances are there'll be a day.

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