The Crusaders

The crusade to create a chemically sterile, insect-free world seems to have engendered a fanatic zeal.’
Rachel Carson

The knights have downed
their swords and ruddy crosses,
exchanged their shining armour
for haz-mat suits,

20 litre backpacks with plastic lances,
hoses with adjustable nozzles
for jet or mist spray,
lockable on/off

for continuous flow.
They have declared a war
on insects: the ranks
of the enemy

drop like victims
of nerve gases in World War Two,
convulsing spitting bubbles
on garden lawns:

an easy feast for birds
who drop like spasming puppet
parachutists. We
beg for answers

from the God
in the toxic clouds.
“Why these crusades?
This fanatical zeal?”

The sky is silenced of birds.
White armoured knights
step from the mist

their rubber hands.
When we shake them
our delicate nerves twitch
warnings in morse code

for future generations.

The Crusaders

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago as a depiction of the the crusade against insects in the 1960s which was contributing to the creation of Rachel Carson’s ‘silent spring’. Sixty years on our over-use of pesticides combined with climate change is leading to a ‘precipitious decline’ in insects at 2.5% per year. They will vanish entirely within a century, leading to the collapse of most of life on earth. I discovered these alarming facts in Damian Carrington’s article ‘Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature’ in The Guardian online HERE.


2 thoughts on “The Crusaders

  1. Greg says:

    I read the article in the print version of The Guardian – depressing stuff 😦 , though there was also the strangely re-assuring suggestion that in a million years or so, long after we and other larger life forms are long gone, more insects would have evolved to inhabit the earth. So it is their planet.

    Your ‘crusaders’ epithet is apt! The hatred of ‘bugs’ is nothing short of fanatical bigotry.

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