Here on our small island just off the European mainland we are having a collective nervous breakdown, and each of us is somewhere on two different scales: dread or ignorance of impending environmental catastrophe, dread or relish at the prospect of leaving the EU. But it is spring, and among the blossoms Extinction Rebellion are disrupting transport in London, young people are missing school in protest at inaction on climate change, and the Governor of the Bank of England has warned that if companies fail to take account of the dangers of climate change “They will fail to exist.”
We persist in acting as though the natural world can always make way for our own needs, and even as we applaud David Attenborough we fail to look in our own waste bins. We understand that when you break a thread things unravel, yet until now our species has failed to see how interconnected everything in nature is and how utterly we depend on it.
The crash in insect populations is a case in point. Bees are of course not the only pollinators, important though they are, and creatures we don’t like or don’t consider pollinate too – flies, mosquitoes, wasps. But the deaths of huge numbers of bees is a potent symbol. Bees are an ancient metaphor too, since poetry is inextricably bound up in all this, and it is spring on a mad island among The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dead
Bee in a poppy
Bee near drowning
in more colour than we see.
Working the crown in your trance
you drench yourself in gold.
Desire is between two poles,
the flower and the hive
but you must also dance
so the tribe can find the flower.
If there is no dancing
we will not survive.