Goodbye Paradise

We lose so much every time one of these wild places disappears. Photo courtesy www.unsplash.com

 

I had other plans for my next post, but I ran across a poem on one of the facebook pages I’ve recently joined.  I do like poetry, but I find most people find it difficult to wade through.

Despite that, I contacted David Corrigan, the writer of the poem that touched me, and got his permission to share it with my readers.

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David told me, “I wrote this poem seven years ago today, as Industrial Wind Power Developers were trying to blast and destroy the Mountains that had given me back my life. I wrote it with tears in my eyes, as it seemed impossible at the time that any of the mountains would be saved. We have had wins and losses in the battle since that day. My mountain still stands…but I still read the poem with tears in my eyes every Christmas Eve.

“It first appeared on my blog, which is no longer online, on that date (Christmas Eve,12-24-10), and was published in my little book ‘Words On The Wind–One Man’s Poems and Prose On The Battle To Save Rural Maine From Industrial Wind Development’ in May 2011.”

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Without further ado, here is David’s poem.

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Christmas Eve-12-24-10

By David P. Corrigan

It was Christmas Eve Day and true to my soul
I was out on The Mountain, taking a stroll
I crossed over the brook and then up the slope
Just wandering and dreaming and looking for hope

Times had been tough and things had been hard
I grieved for the future and my outlook was marred
For things that I’d prayed just couldn’t be true
Were coming to pass, and this I well knew

I thought and I pondered as upward I went
Drawn by a force, like a hound on a scent
Onward and upward I silently stalked
Until an old man stood before me, and suddenly, I balked

I was startled to see, up here in this place
One so old and so white, with a smiling face
It was a tough place to get to, way out up here
I never expected a soul, let alone one of such years

He called me by name and bade me come close
I wasn’t so sure, but he struck such a pose
In his gray woolen pants and his shirt black and red
That my heart it felt light, with no inkling of dread

He was a man of some years, of this I was sure
He’d seen 80 winters, and probably more
But his smile was genuine and he seemed rather spry
So I lost all my misgivings and took to the guy

The old man sat himself down on a large rock full of tripe
Then struck up a match and lit his small pipe
His manner was gentle and he put me at ease
And soon I was sitting on a stump at his knees

“You know Davy boy,” he said with a tear
“I’ve been watching these woods for many a year
First the old Choppers with crosscut and ax
And then the young Guides, with packs on their backs”

“After them came the Skidders and mechanical crews
Who’d never known horses, and looked sideways at mules
They meant no harm, I’ll grant you, it’s true
They were just hired men doing what hired men do”

“Sometimes the damage they did was pretty darn bad
Sometimes what I saw made this old man sad
But though there are exceptions, most clear cuts return
Over the years re-growing, like an old forest burn”

Then the man paused and he looked far away
And I could tell he was pondering some far distant day
But what I couldn’t tell and he gave not a clue
Was if he looked to the future, or to some day he once knew

After a minute he said words that struck to my heart
He said; “Now boy, it is time for you to do your part.”
I stared at him blankly, I sat there quite dumb
I had no idea what to do in the days yet to come

“The cutting and chopping and ruts,” the man said
“Nature can heal—there is nothing to dread
These things they cause pain, and sometimes real damage
But you’ve been ‘round ‘nuf to know that Nature can manage”

“But boy I tell you that what’s coming up next
Never was written in old Ma Natures text
Some will tell you it’s good, but the truth you’ll behold
As the scars they’ll run deeper than any forest floor mold”

“Don’t let them deceive you; judge all men by their acts
And when lies they do feed you, then go digging for facts
What’s coming already in your heart you know true
And you know what all good men must stand up and do”

My eyes they got blurry and my heart it beat fast
Because try as I might, it was a terrible task
To stand up and speak up in the face of such power
To speak for the Mountains and People in their most desperate hour

The old man went on as his eyes twinkled with dew
“This is the duty of all men, but I ask it of you
Because you know these woods, these brooks and these Mounts
And you know well as any, just what really counts”

“You won’t be alone, there are many, it’s true
Who will stand up and speak up, and demand answers, too
Stand with them, boy, and do whatever you can
To stave off what’s coming will take every woman and man”

“But this here is Maine and the people are tough
It won’t take long ‘fore they stand up and all shout, ‘ENOUGH’
And when this is done, and the laws they get fixed
You’ll be proud that you stood up, and in the fracas you mixed”

“Just do the right thing, and don’t ever back down
Don’t let them drive you out, from your Mountains to town
For one sign of weakness, that’s all it will take
For these dishonest Developers to strike like a snake”

“But I tell you boy, if you’ll just stand strong
You will drive them all out, and it won’t take very long
Because most men are honest, at heart, as you know
And given the chance, Mainer’s will tell them to ‘GO’”

“So just stand up straight, and honest, and true
And stand with those others that believe as you do
If you can do that, then there’s every chance
To run those crooks out of Maine at the point of a lance”

I sat there and listened as the old man went on
He talked of the old days, and sang an old song
Then he talked of the future and things yet to come
And as he spoke with authority, I sat there quite numb

This old man he knew things, but how, I can’t say
He knew both of the future and of long ago days
So I sat and I listened, for hours I suppose
Until suddenly I awakened, with a chill on my nose

A light snow was falling and I was chilled almost through
There was no sign of the old timer, but I know it was true
That he’d been there and spoken, and given me hope
Though if I mentioned it to others, they might think me a dope

So I headed home; I still had presents to wrap
And decided for now, not to mention my nap
For to speak of such things to practical Yanks
Is to open oneself up to unthinkable pranks

And so Christmas Eve went off as before
And soon the whole house was asleep, behind the locked door
The presents were set just under the tree
And my old hound dog lay not too far from my knee

Come Christmas morning we all gathered round
And any who’ve known would recognize the sound
Of gifts being opened and cards being exchanged
And none would have guessed at anything strange

That is until, well back under the tree
I found a small package that was addressed to me
There was no ‘from’ on the tag, only a ‘to’
So from whence it came, not one of us knew

I opened it up and to my surprise
An impossible thing lay before my eyes
In my trembling hand, I held a small pipe
The same one that was smoked by the man sitting on the rock tripe

The windows were locked, and the door was still bolted
And out of his sleep the hound never jolted
So how in the world could anyone dare
To slip me this gift that just couldn’t be there

As I examined the wrapper that had fell to the floor
I saw on the inside there was something more
Inside the paper that had late held the pipe
There was some writing, of the old fashioned type

It said; “Now my boy, you know it’s all true
And deep in your heart you know just what to do
So take courage my boy, and remember the love
That this Christmas Day comes from above”

“But remember as well the things I foretold
And promise yourself that as you grow old
You will always and ever do what is right
That for Mountains and Neighbors and Truth you will fight”

Well, I fell to my knees, with tears in my eyes
The emotion that welled up, I couldn’t disguise
I knew from that moment that all would be well
As I gathered my folks, the whole story to tell…

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With all the changes I’ve seen in the last 60 years, this poem really hits home.  I’ve seen my favorite rabbit coverts dozed out.  I’ve seen trees cut that I shot squirrels out of in my youth.  Places I once hid in to watch nature are now covered in homes filled with people who never go outside.

It’s heartbreaking, but there are glimmers of hope. We live on the family farm where I never saw a deer for the first ten years we owned it. Now, it’s not uncommon to see a half dozen or more at a time. I plan to teach my grandchildren to love nature and hunting on the same farm where I taught their fathers. Hopefully you and I can make a difference to stop the change that could keep our children and grandchildren from carrying on that tradition and handing it down as they should.

The pictures I’ve chosen to accompany this post, and the video I made for the same reason, are not about David’s particular struggle, or his region, or even mine.  Instead, they are about nature in general, and the losses we all see as our lives move inevitably toward eternity.

 

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(below) I used music performed by John Denver and John Prine to accompany photos from www.unsplash.com.  I hope I did the subject justice.

12 Comments on "Goodbye Paradise"

  1. David Corrigan | December 24, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Reply

    Thanks for including my poem in your tribute to the land and all those who love it. You chose the perfect music, too!

    • Thanks for allowing me to use the poem. It speaks clearly of the love we outdoorsmen and women have for our natural environment.

  2. David Corrigan | December 24, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Reply

    Thank you for that. You chose great music, too. My Mother came from coal country–Parkersburg West Virginia, and that song will always bring a tear to my eye.

    • Thanks! I heard both of those songs for the first time sung by John Denver. He spoke so clearly to my heart that I have been a fan of his ever since. These songs always make my throat tighten when I hear them too. I hope maybe, between your message and my blog we can share the need to conserve the wild places.

  3. Enjoyed the poem. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas.

  4. Good poem! The true beauty of Nature is something to many people take for granted.

    • Scott Matthews | December 26, 2017 at 6:22 am | Reply

      You are absolutely right! Too many people only see “nature” in Disney movies and beside the highway. Shame.

  5. Paradise is what we decide to make of life, whether it moves in the direction we want or it doesn’t. With that said, nice poem David Corrigan.

    • Scott Matthews | December 30, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Reply

      I have to admit, I can’t argue with that philosophy, but I still don’t want my mountains torn down. Thanks.

  6. i hate to see so many building going up in my little town while so many set empty, don’t know why they can’t just use them instead, so the poem hits home with me also. thank you Scott, and you David.

    • I agree. It seems like it would be easier to repurpose an old building but I guess, business wise, it might be more feasible to build new. Maybe it attracts more attention?

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