Long Forgotten


Living on the built up edge
of historic Epping Forest,
hacked down to size for Metrolanders,
I tread where mighty oaks once stood,
where animals followed ancient trails,
commoners respected trees,
cut only branches for firewood,
kept livestock with freedom to roam.

There’s a Hunting Lodge,
a listed building, visitors can
ogle its Tudor timber frame,
think of Henry and Elizabeth,
the pleasure they took from
chasing deer, killing them
for relaxation, respite from
the toil of burning and beheading,
their victims no longer mourned.

The depressed man who scaled
a tall chimney in Carlisle,
a listed building, and died
in pain last week hanging
upside down from the ladder,
what value does his life have
when those who mourn him
forget to mourn him?

There are incised names
on splendid memorials
and bewreathed cenotaphs,
are these Glorious Dead
being mourned if we only
bow our heads in silence?

It’s the least we can do
for the long forgotten,
or the most, you say.
.

 

 

 

© Nemo 2020
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critique and comments welcome.
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Ionicus

A deep and philosophical piece, Gerald. I like the way your poem transitions smoothly from the once respected Epping Forest’s environs to a listed building on its grounds – which elicits satirical remarks about the Tudors – and a listed building in Carlisle where a fatal incident occurred. That death raises the question of how much a life is valued if the mourning is only transitory or just acknowledged by a brief silence like the one shown for the ‘Glorious Dead’ whose names are carved in memorials and cenotaphs. How much is adequate is open to debate. As ever an… Read more »

Sweetwater

This poem really had me thinking about all you were saying. I don’t know each individual creature lost yet I can still mourn their loss. Each acre stolen for building although lost for now, feels to me like the land is in waiting after all it is still there, its story will continue, when the buildings fall, the land will breath again. But I do wonder about the value of a life forgotten by those who once mourned, is that life now of no value, does that make the existence of that person pointless. Apologies, this seems a rather inadequate… Read more »

TheRecluse

May the gods preserve the Green Belt, Gerald, the circular lungs of the city, just as important as the central parks! You’ve certainly revised this fine poem for the better, very philosophical and a timely warning. I like the way you juxtapose the two ideas of ‘preserve’ and ‘mourn’ by not making it too implicit, but by using historical description in your narrative which come over as a protesting lament, very skilled.
Best, Trevor

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