Thursday, December 19, 2013

Too many deaths - a poem for forestry workers

Another death this week, this time of a 20-year-old. Here is a poem by New Zealand poet Eileen Duggan, written in the 1930s. It's appalling that eighty years on, it is still utterly relevant for today's forestry workers and their families.

The Bushfeller 
Lord, mind your trees today!
My man is out there clearing.
God send the chips fly safe.
My heart is always fearing. 
And let the axehead hold!
My dreams are all of felling.
He earns our bread far back.
And then there is no telling. 
If he came home at nights
We'd know, but it is only –
We might not even hear –
A man could lie there lonely. 
God, let the trunks fall clear.
He did not choose his calling.
He's young and full of life –
A tree is heavy, falling.
                                    Eileen Duggan


  1. What a poignant poem Anne, and as you say, it's still so relevant — sadly.

    1. The endless reports of avoidable deaths are terrible.

  2. I love that poem, especially the finality and power of the last line. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    Eileen Duggan went to our church. St Patricks in Kilbirnie, when I was a child in the 50s. I remember her very well, and many of her poems were taught to us at both primary and secondary school (St Mary's). I liked her work because it wasn't soppy-religious-romantic, like so much of the other stuff we were given to read. It was simple, but packed a punch.

    1. That's fascinating - a real link with the poet. Harvey would have been so pleased to know this. Thank you!