Linking us to Bards of old, may their spirit our words sustain.
My job it is to tell a tale, to conjure from the flames
Of our flickering fire great heroes with glory to their names.
Our theme this night, the chaired Bard’s choice of test,
Is the legend of the immortal who loved us mortals best,
Who made of us makers, thinkers, creators in his image,
With fiery ingenuity our future to manage.
Our breath a flame, our very gaze an horizon,
We stride like giants this earth our mighty footprint lies on.
I would illuminate tonight with beams of verse
The titanic struggle between the best of man and worst.
Our elemental being was shaped by that fond incendiary,
Whose tricks on the gods landed him in quandary.
But while they would have had us four-footed, snuffling in the mire,
Legend says that twice he gifted us with fire.
Our culture, science and arts all arise from there,
From burning particles which like us feed on air.
We stared in cave or camp at white, yellow, orange, red.
The flame bit our brains, like visions, like horses in the head.
From cooking and a hearth rose human sensuality
Such comfort perhaps cut us off from animality
With time to sit and use the captious brain
Human inventiveness and a world of ideas were set in train.
So man became maker of marks, urging to pursue his line,
His tracks he left by wheel and forge, the metal and the mine.
Outgrowth and carapace now covered the Promethean clay
Of Iron John who feared his own tenderness, you might say.
Somehow we all got robbed of our birthright in nature to dwell,
The commons stolen from under us and work sent to hell.
The iron grip of industry ripped us from the land,
Into the maw of commerce we were pitched by Mammon’s hand.
To animate and generate, transform mere natural matter,
The glamour of such alchemy is a spell that didn’t shatter.
The march of progress on an anvil beats out time
Bronze age, Iron age, through to Nuclear age, heart of this rhyme.
For whereto has it brought us, this civilisation?
A knife-edge, a cliff-edge, from our own annihilation,
Where all that is beautiful in the human world
Seems to have a shadow around it cankerously curled.
Maths, music, medicine, astronomy and art,
Architecture, navigation, and of science the dark heart,
To what ends have these been twisted, sating artificial need?
Humankind’s bright, bold abilities made void by yawning greed.
Power-hungry leaders, of economies and armies flick the switches.
Under concrete, under shelling, the seed of hope scarce twitches.
Against this barrage, the world in oil, arms and money remade,
We consumers flick switches too, on battalions of gadgets arrayed.
Only the technological fix can ease our woes.
Natural, renewable, self-sufficient, small-scale? None of those.
And here in Somerset, Hinkley Point’s the way to doom.
By the holy carrot of jobs we’re driven its miasma to consume.
EDF ONR DCO EPR, an alphabet soup of toxicity,
Letters which brand us like cattle and fence us in with electricity.
Dead in the water of Bridgwater Bay the notion of public utility
Sold off and then subsidised, guess who foots the bill for so-called profitability.
They say, ‘We’re all about low carbon, we make the world cleaner and greener.
Our inspiration gives you a future, we’re as pure as the breath of Athena.’
Sweeteners and backhanders, energy bosses at the government table.
Consultation’s for the birds, their PR twitter a new Tower of Babel.
The pressure is on in a company town to take their radiant shilling,
Sucking crumbs from corporate finger, as subcontractors aim to make a killing.
While Ukippers winge about windfarms, the nuclear behemoth circles our boat.
And Hinkley buzzes and blazes like some nightmare carnival float.
Denatured, disenchanted, the sacred elements in there they fix,
Splitting, rearranging, rewriting nature’s old wise tricks.
Infecting, injecting the body of the land with radiation,
Laying waste docile populus, sick from vaccination.
To keep the lights on in Britain, have we put out our own?
To blight our grandchildren’s lives with dangers well-known.
Our faith is in Atomic Rod, not Church or Earth, intuition, spirit divine.
On flat-screen TV, The Blue Planet HD. Gone Fission says the sign.
Against nature we have bent our wits, oh! hubris improper.
Did even Pandora imagine what we might un-stopper?
Can the nuclear genie be put back in the steel and concrete jar?
Human paradigms remade, earthly paradise regained, by seeing far?
Corporations and their scientists life’s divinity blaspheme.
Economic necessity the wheel on which they break our dream.
Fire would be our attribute, so thought our benefactor,
But not even the gods saw the anti-worlds within the reactor.
Forces beyond our control, as thunder is heard to mutter.
Five miles down, they carve hell’s chamber and death in there they shutter.
What monstrous betrayal of the love our Mother Gaia bore,
Human folly punched in deep by iron fist to her core.
A fog of lies they spew, media mockery they orchestrate.
We’re naysayers, nimbys, tree-huggers, we hold hands, sing and demonstrate.
Effete vicars, bloodless twerps, dim nostalgics, kith of Ludd,
They say we want the world dragged back to primeval dark and mud.
Life’s tremulous sacred flame we act now to defend,
A task greater than that of our champion and fire-stealing friend.
Prometheus, you’ve been dishonoured by the race who won your trust.
Elemental you made us, out of sparks and rain and dust.
We are the stuff of cosmos and the heroes of the hour!
We shall stand tall and not before presumed consensus cower.
No man is god for all his power, that’s the moral of this tale.
Let’s remember our maker’s gentle hands, who loved us human-scale.
Flesh of clay, soul of fire, our perfection he built in.
Scientific improvement not required, just to see the light within.
May human clay give body to the spirit of the earth,
And sweet energy, of natural source, speak not death but birth.