16 January 2024


When you write poetry as I have been doing intermittently since the age of seven, it is easy to get caught up in the moment of completion - when you determine that the poem is done, finished. However, it is often illuminating to reconsider poems you wrote months, years or even decades before - to see them anew. It can be like reviewing somebody else's poetry.

Over the years, I have posted numerous self-crafted poems here at "Yorkshire  Pudding".  I have tended to title such blogposts "Poem" in order to facilitate my own future searches. However, that is not always the case and back in December 2018 I shared an environmental poem I had written called "Once" under that blogpost title.

I guess that countless poems concerning Nature, the environment and anxiety about our planet's future have been produced in the last decade. It's hard to say anything new or original on the topic.

Most of us feel the pain of what is going on out there and we feel rather helpless. It is as if we are standing here watching creatures disappear, witnessing rising sea levels, desertification and the depletion of forests. What can we do? Well at the very least we can write a poem and thereby share feelings, release emotional pressure. As in World War One, great tragedy is invariably an effective melting pot for poetry.

I am proud of "Once" and its simple underlying message, delivered as though in a state of future naivete. I admit that it owes something to a song written by the folk singer Tom Paxton in 1970: "Whose Garden Was This?"
Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers? I've seen pictures of flowers
And I'd love to have smelled one
That's a song that resonated with me from the first time I heard it.

So yes, here's "Once" once again and quite unusually at this present point in time, I would not wish to change a thing...


Once there were tigers
Padding through shadows
Anticipating another kill
They were quiet
But you could sense
Their presence
Watching. Breathing.
Or lapping furtively
From jungle streams.

Once there were hedgehogs
Snuffling in soil
Or scurrying homeward.
Living quietly
They preferred the night
Yet were amongst us
Feeding on worms
Rolling into needle balls
When danger called.

Once albatrosses
Rode on invisible winds
Circling the globe
Seeking squid or sprats
Gliding over oceans
That furrowed white below.
It is reported that
The very last pair
Danced on camera
Beaks raised to southern skies
Emitting melancholic cries
Like dodos.


Back in December 2018, I received this reassuring comment on "Once" from Bonnie who lives near Kansas City in Missouri:-
"Beautiful poem and very sad because of the truthfulness of it. Sometimes I will see a deer or other wild animal in a populated area looking panicked and lost. It breaks my heart that we have so encroached on their homes."
I say "reassuring" because Bonnie's honest emotional response proved that my main poetic intention had been achieved.


  1. We know what is going to happen. Much of it is here now. It just takes a while to knock down all the trees.

  2. I like the "Whose garden was this?" verse. And your "Once" poem is good too.

    1. Thank you River. I have come to realise that you only say what you mean.

  3. What can we do, you ask. For some, the answer is: Not have babies, not eat (much) meat, not use (much) dairy products, use public transport, buy sensibly and not out of sheer consumerism, and so on. For others, there are no simple solutions, because their daily struggle just to survive eclipses thoughts of "should I go Vegan" or "should I have kids".

    By the way, to facilitate searching your blog, you can add a label "poem" or "poetry" to each of your poetry posts, and similarly, "travel" or "walking" or "family" etc. Clicking on a label will then show all posts you have assigned that label to.

    1. Thank you for the labelling tip.

      There's a growing sense of futility when we consider how we might save Earth. We seem to be on the road to hell, like a car that is careering down hill with no brakes.

  4. Very effective poem. One of our tragic flaws as humans appears to be our complete inability to contain our own numbers. There are a lot of reasons for this but it's fascinating to me that even as people decry the state of the world, they have more babies. (I don't mean this as a personal criticism of you or your family -- it's something about the human condition!)

    Interesting artwork. The hedgehog strolling through the pond is a funny image, trailing a wake like a motorboat.

    1. All these "COP" conferences - they never seem to make a big thing of overpopulation but it should always be near the top of the agenda. It's surely the real elephant in the room. The hedgehog is called Jesus because it can walk on water.

  5. I would echo Meike's comment although I would probably have said that it is the luxury of the 'Haves' to write such poetry. I just wish that we (and I include myself) really should try harder in so many ways. I particularly was thinking about the Albatrosses which I have watched cruising over the Southern Ocean with nery a wing beat.

    1. It is the luxury of the "haves" to write anything at all - not just poetry.

  6. Lapping Furtively sounds like a sedate little village in the Home Counties. Great poem YP.

  7. Nice job on the poem, Neil. Is it too late already to change the future?

    1. I fear it is Ellen. World leaders seem incapable of seeing beyond five years and they are unwilling to act meaningfully for the greater good. Ignorant Trump is in fancy a climate change denier.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

Most Visits