Tag Archives: loss

A Lament For Lost Words

words omitted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary

words omitted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary

I was very distressed to read that The Oxford Junior Dictionary had been ‘culling’ words concerning nature’, words like catkin, acorn, cowslip, otter meadow, in order to make room for words like broadband, chatroom, and celebrity. Reading the list of deletions in alphabetical order, as they are presented in the image above, which I first saw taken from Simon Kings wildlife page, I felt there was a poem waiting to be uttered just in the sheer listing, and lost sounds, in these lovely names, so I set them, as they were, and in their order, in this lament.

I have since discovered the source of the list in the image above in an excellent article by Robert McFarlane, who is doing so much to restore the richness and texture of our language and to celebrate our wild places.

As always you can hear it by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

To graceful names and lovely woods farewell
To acorn, adder, ash, to beech and bluebell,
Farewell old friends I name you in my sonnet
Buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet
Farewell, your fields are brick, our books are barren
No dandelion or fern, hazel or heron
We’ll go no more alone, no more together
The mountain thyme is gone and gone the heather
The clinging ivy‘s gone and soon to go
The kingfisher‘s blue bolt, the mistletoe
Nectar, newt, and otter, pasture, willow
To their last rites my muse comes footing slow
We’ll hear no more the heaven-scaling lark
We’ll all go down together in the dark.


Filed under Current affairs, imagination, Poems


For various reasons I have been contemplating mortality, love, and loss of late and here is a poem which sprung out of that. Not that the poem is strictly autobiographical, I am not, as far as I know, about to leave this world, but I think it is good sometimes to imagine one’s last day, as prompted by happenstance, if only to cherish the more what Larkin called ‘the million-petalled flower of being here’.
I decided on this occasion to work with another metre, a different drum as it were. I usually write in iambs, often iambic pentameter, but on this occasion I opted for dactyls which gives the metre a strong spring and push, emphasising the incantatory effect of the repeated ‘never’s. Indeed I confess this poem was written as much for its music as for it’s meaning.
The picture below, whilst not quite ‘a resinous glade’ is one of the lovely woodland paths around Girton in which I delight to walk and sometimes compose.

As usual you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the play button


Closing my eyes against all that is left to see,
Folding my hands when there’s so much undone.
This is the last of the days that are left to me,
Last of the light and the warmth of the sun.

Hardly a moment it seems I have lived with you,
Swiftly I leave what has scarcely begun,
Telling again all I know I will never do,
Losing at last what has hardly been won.

Never to run through a resinous glade again,
Never to bathe in a clear-running stream,
Never to move between sunlight and shade again,
Never to wake or to sleep or to dream,

Never to look on the light of your face again,
Never to turn at the sound of your voice,
Never to yearn for your warmth and embrace again,
Dead to all feeling, desire or choice,

Never to love again, never to leave again,
Never to sing again, never to sigh,
Never to give again, never to grieve again,
Never to die again, never to die.



Filed under imagination, literature, Poems