There’s a lot of England left
Whatever glum people say –
Acres and acres of it – but dull
Even in Spring; bereft

Of hedgerows, wild flowers.
Grim units of production,
Grey barns, an occasional spread
Of solar panels. Lost towers

Of churches pointing nowhere
Punctuate an agnostic sky;
Car parks, piles of pointless tyres
And dull villages where

I bet nothing happens at all
Since all the kids left,
Buggering off to find jobs.
Moving north, a dry wall

Or two brings some relief
But the flatlands of Middle England
(Which are sodden and unkind)
Have little to offer but grief

For lives lost or missed
Or now spent on water
In narrow boats; can canals
Keep at bay the hereafter?

Only if you’re pissed.

Peter Ainsworth is a former politician. Currently Chair of the U.K. Big Lottery Fund and the Churches Conservation Trust, and a board member of the Environment Agency, he has written regularly for Resurgence. His verse has been published and broadcast and his writing for The London Magazine includes the sonnet ‘Assonance’ and ‘The Grange’ – a ghost story.

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