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« Exeunt stage left | Main | Happy new year, everyone »

You reap what you sow

Andrew Motion has quietly been composing five sonnets about climate change, which will be set to music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Master of the Queen's Music..."To me, climate change is so bleeding obvious. Anyone who thinks it's not happening should get outside more. It's such an appalling, huge, unapproachable subject...I've written a lament about it which has the air of a call to arms. Each sonnet tells a little story."

The Telegraph, May 2009

Wind farms have 'industrialised' the countryside, Sir Andrew Motion says. The president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and former Poet Laureate condemns politicians' "gung-ho" emphasis on growth at the expense of natural landscape.

The Telegraph, January 2014

When the state acts the perverse incentives of the bureaucrats and the corruption of those that surround the government machine will be brought into play. So when Andrew Motion issued his call to arms he was effectively accepting that these forces would be unleashed.

He was playing with fire and now he must accept the part he played in the rape of the British landscape.

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Reader Comments (50)

A lament ? lamentable ignorance morelike - what a plank.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:25 PM | Registered Commentertomo

The trouble is that there are many shades of green. Some would like to destroy capitalism, industry and our way of life.
Some believe everything they are told but mean well.

Some see green ambitions clearly but don't have a clue about the practical consequences.

Some will support every green measure without realising they are being manipulated for political ends.

Most greens cannot accept that sceptics are greens who take a critical and objective look at the bigger picture.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

"Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I doubt if Andrew Motion has recanted his belief in the "need to do something about climate change", it's just that he didn't see what that would mean in practice. Should we expect a poet to think rationally? His head is most likely to be in the clouds. Of course we should expect someone who uses his heart rather than his head to get in this position. The problem is that we have too many politicians who think in this way. They all want to be seen as "nice" instead of trying to be logical.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

His "need to do something about climate change" would simply involve taking all the money away from people he doesn't like and giving it to those he does.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

"To me, climate change weather is so bleeding obvious. Anyone who thinks it's not happening should get outside more. It's such an appalling, huge, unapproachable subject con trick...I've written a lament about it which has the air of a call to arms for fewer wind farms. Each sonnet solar farm tells a little story about man's greed, corruption and my gullibility."

Now, if only he had said that I'd have a lot more respect for him. Otherwise, he is nothing more than a Pillock Laureate.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

It would seem that he is a silly man, but at least he does not seem to be in the set of silly men intent on making a great deal of financial or political capital out of scaring people about carbon dioxide.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:49 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Heavy industry only exists to provide mass-produced trinkets for the peasantry and is therefore entirely superfluous in the face of a noble's cause.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

My brain read it as:

"Andrew MONTFORD has quietly been composing five sonnets about climate change, which will be set to music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Master of the Queen's Music..

But the quote forced me to double check.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

"Now, if only he had said that I'd have a lot more respect for him. Otherwise, he is nothing more than a Pillock Laureate."

That is a little harsh - he just needs more time to compose your rewrite into iambic pentameter, heroic couplets, rhiming in pairs.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Schrodinger's - My thoughts entirely.

My greens have been misappropriated and are now supposed to support any piece of stupidity put forward by Green Central or suffer the consequences. If you want to be in our gang - you have to disconnect your brain and do as you are told.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:53 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

I think it is Andrew Motion who should "get out more". Those of us who have been getting out over the past 30 years or more have noticed that the disappointingly snowless winters of the 1990s have been replaced by proper snowy conditions in recent years. In fact the snows came back not long after some Boy Genius said our children would never see them again. The link is an easy read with some good pictures. Some New Year's Day entertainment which also neatly shows why we don't want our countryside ruined by stupid wind turbines.


Happy New Year.

Jan 1, 2014 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

He's also in the Mail
When he was appointed president of the CPRE following Bill Bryson, it was greeted with dismay by the vast majority of the members because of his previous ludicrous statements about wind turbines. He's just another figure-head who speaks from a position of ignorance when it comes to climate change.

Jan 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Perhaps he has decided "Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth." If I didn't know better, I could mistake him for a poet.

Is there no end to his talents?

Jan 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

"To me, climate change is so bleeding obvious. Anyone who thinks it's not happening should get outside more."

To me it is bleeding obvious that the Sun goes around the Earth. Anyone who doesn't believe it should go outside and see it happen.

sung by Andrew Moron

Jan 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

People like Motion want action on CO2 to be light and fluffy and are bemused when the solution is brutal. My comment on that isn't poetic.

"Well DUH!"

Jan 1, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I'm actually surprised he thinks that wind turbines represent "growth".

Jan 1, 2014 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o'er vale and hill
and all at once I saw a crowd
a host of hideous naff windmills.

Poets that get out more write the more enduring verse.

Jan 1, 2014 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

May 2009. The very peak of hysteria, just before Climategate. The guy was getting paid to write that stuff, doing what for him, no doubt, was a very prestigious job. His Mum was probably very proud of him. Then his circumstances changed, and, hey, his opinions changed.

There's a moral in there somewhere.

Jan 1, 2014 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterThon Brocket

He was just plain Andrew Motion in May 2009 when he was pontificating about climate change. But the following month, with the Queen's birthday honours list, he became Sir Andrew. Perhaps being knighted made him more concerned about countryside aesthetics - noblesse oblige, and all that. ;-)

Jan 1, 2014 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

Well I can't perform in the sonnet line like your erring poet laureate but here is something I wrote for our error laden troll and his ilk,

Please note that where I use the word "flack" I did so under the poetic Licence Act of 1876 but under His Grace's rules you should not actually respond to the individual.

The creep.
Another poem.
© 2013
PM Walsh

The creep it is back,
It’s a nasty old hack,
As its jaws hang slack
Let’s give it some flack

All covered in stools
It dribbles and drools
Calling us all sorts of fools

Nose dripping with snot
Scatological or what?

Jan 1, 2014 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPM Walsh

I've done two Andrews today.....sorry, motions.

Jan 1, 2014 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

I have heard this a lot from greens - "just go outside to see the effects of climate change".

I would like to know what it is that they think they are seeing, because I haven't seen anything which hasn't happened before. Perhaps it is they who don't get out enough to be aware of this.

Jan 1, 2014 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

The poor Poet Laureate should be cut some slack for growing up with a crap surname (pun intended) but an inclination to poesy is not a licence to cease engaging in rational thought in pursuit of being fashionable in the circles he moves in...what an arrogant, ignorant, unobservant pillock!

Jan 1, 2014 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

He yearns for the good old days when we used windmills windmills for power and burned wood in the Dax coal to keep warm and there was record ice on the Thames in the Antarctic.

I'm confused.

Jan 1, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Some have tried 'sonnets' (or was it blank verse!), so may I repeat* a limerick I composed some time ago?


I'm Spartacus! Claimed AlecM,
And my dog's got no nose, now and then.
I've never been Georgy,
Nor even a Formby,
But it's quite turned out nice, once again!"

*Repeat is used ironically - considering how many repeated posts we've seen from YKW. ;-)

Jan 1, 2014 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Here is a lamentable sonnet I penned:

Bring more books for the fires
We're burning the deniers
Because in our scientific democracy
They are committing scientific heresy

Jan 1, 2014 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterEJ Thribb

"Scientific democracy"?? So if enough of us vote to repeal the law of gravity you'd just float away?

Jan 1, 2014 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Wait till he gets his electricity bill

Something else for him to write a poem about

Jan 1, 2014 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Woe to the land,
To evil times the prey
Where fans proliferate
and nukes decay

Jan 1, 2014 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Anyone know if there are any copies of Motion's 2009 climate lament available. Should make interesting reading. Up there with Geldof and Clooney one would imagine.

Jan 1, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

You, Andrew Motion
(with apologies to A. MacLeish)

And here face down before the gale
And here upon earth’s windward height
To feel it always coming on
The music of the whirling blight:

To feel creep up the curving blades
The unearthly din at dusk and slow
Devouring once fair lands the vast
And climbing shadows grow

And strange past Rugby all the trees
Lack leaf and whirl in evening strange
Their drumming dark about their knees
As mountains over Perthshire change

And now at Balmoral’s gate
Dead eagles line the withered grass
And through the twilight now the late
Few bats surviving westward pass

And skylines darken as the ridge
Across the silent river drones
While in Arabia's silent night, the edge
Of laughter widens as Andrew Motion moans.

Jan 1, 2014 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The lament of the Progressive: "Next time we'll get it right"

Jan 1, 2014 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

Michaelhart (Jan 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM): I have long thought, “Is there no start to his talents?” But perhaps I am getting too cynical.

Ssat shows that so much more so in his (mis)quotation: everyone recognises the work of Wordsworth, but can you recognise anything of Andrew Moron’s Motion’s let alone quote him?

Jan 1, 2014 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The trouble is that there are many shades of green. Some would like to destroy capitalism, industry and our way of life.
Some believe everything they are told but mean well.

They are known respectively as the True Believers and the Mindless Foot Soldiers.

Jan 1, 2014 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

For Ivor - this might give you a start:
The Sorcerer's Mirror

composer: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
text writer: Andrew Motion

for SATB chorus and orchestra

text by Andrew Motion
Language: English

Climate change is a subject that has been close to the heart of Peter Maxwell Davies for many years; indeed he was one of the first composers to travel to the Antarctic in 1999 to understand for himself its implications. Max has written many works since inspired by the topic, including Last Door of Light for chamber orchestra. This work for choir and orchestra is a setting of a poem by Andrew Motion which, behind the quiet stillness of a North London
garden at night, reflects the poet’s fears for the future of life as we know it. The composer’s constant use of unsettling harmony conveys the sense of unease and imminent catastrophe.


I Moderato "Midnight and midsummer in London"
II Moderato "I see what I hear"
III Adagio "After that breath a pause"
IV Allegro "Here comes the rain"
V Moderato "Then the storm passes"


June 13th, 2009
Cambridge University Music Society Orchestra - Cambridge University Choir - Stephen Cleobury King\'s College Chapel - Cambridge - United Kingdom

June 22nd, 2009 - City of London Festival 2009
Cambridge University Music Society Orchestra - Choir of King's College, Cambridge - Stephen Cleobury Southwark Cathedral - London - United Kingdom,252096.html?showOldPerformances=true#top

Jan 1, 2014 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"To support the launch of the 10:10 campaign to reduce carbon emissions, the Review asked some of our greatest poets to produce new work in response to the crisis"

Andrew Motion contribution here:

I remember 10:10.

Exploding children.

Is 10:10 on Andrew Motions CV?

Jan 2, 2014 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Interesting note on funding here:
Lamentations by Andrew Motion

composer’s note:
This work was composed to a poem by Andrew Motion, to mark the 800th anniversary of the foundation of Cambridge University. It is scored for chorus and orchestra, with one short section featuring a treble solo.

The theme is ecological, the poem bringing the most pressing problem of our time, climate change, into a North London night time garden, pinpointing the symptoms and the urgency behind the seeming normality. There are five movements, played without a break, with an uncomfortable modality underlining the potential catastrophe in a direct and uncompromising way.

additional information:
On a theme of climate change, partially funded by the British Antarctic Survey

Jan 2, 2014 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Motion: "Here are the miniature crustaceans and even glaciers cowering in their valleys like defeated creatures."

Suggested Replacement:

"Here are the tiny brained climate scientists cowering in their cabins like defeated creatures, bereft of banana and peanut butter milkshakes, watching their careers fade away followed by guffaws of laughter.

Jan 2, 2014 at 12:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Iambic pentameter that doesn't rhyme is called blank verse. Blank verse is not just any old shit. Shakespeare wrote in non-rhyming iambic pentameter.

Here is some blank verse from Tennyson

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.


Only skeptic sites have poems.

Jan 2, 2014 at 1:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

You do realise this thread is a time and Motion study?

Jan 2, 2014 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I have never identified with the green religion, not even as a romantic youngster.
I lack an epiphany of the non-biblical type.
Those who confess to conversion from a green state to sceptic are simply admitting to being slow learners. How did you ever get hooked in the first place? I do hope that confessed culprits here have fully backed out of prior states of mind numb.
As to poetry, it's about as useful as tits on a bull. The English language is an adequate medium for transmission of complex ideas without bending it to predefined structures like the sonnet form and torturing words that rhyme out of it.
Any guy here ever caught a chick with poetry? Thought not.
Finally, as an Australian, I do again apologise for the actions of others here, such as those in the Antarctic ice. Toss in a Lewandowsky and a Cook and a Karoly and a Gergis and a Flannery and you'll understand the need for an apology (though the Ice Man, Prof Turney, has the accent of a Brit - is it identifiable to a UK location, or is identification of a location an embarrassing topic for Ice Man?).

Jan 2, 2014 at 2:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington


Unfortunately we Brits were forced to transport Turney to the colonies for the sake of national sanity. You know how it is.

I've just learned that he has labelled his own blog "The popular science website of scientist, explorer and writer Chris Turney." - that kind of self-promotion is generally loathed in these islands. We don't want him back.

I also humbly apologise for ever having been associated with the dark side - my employment depended on it at the time. It won't happen again - l resigned and have repented. Comprehensively.

Jan 2, 2014 at 2:51 AM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Andrew Motion? Never heard of him. Another benefit of having got out of the UK several years ago.

Poets are a bit like "climate scientists": We could all get on very well without them.

Jan 2, 2014 at 3:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

This is probably the former Port Laureates greatest work. Note the brilliant chorus line at the end.

When I see my baby,
What do I see,
Poetry in Motion
Poetry in Motion, walking by my side, her lovely locomotion,
Keeps my eyes open wide.
Poetry in Motion, see her gentle sway, on a wave out on the
Ocean, could never move that way.
I Love every Movement, and there's nothing I would change,
She doesn't need improvement, she's much too nice to

Poetry In Motion, dancin' close to me, a flower of the devotion,
For all the world to see.
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
Poetry in Motion, see her gentle sway, on a wave out on the
Ocean, could never move that way.
I Love every Movement, and there's nothing I would change,
She doesn't need improvement, she's much too nice to
Poetry In Motion, all that I adore, no number 9 love potion could make me love you more
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe
A-woe woe woe woe woe woe

Jan 2, 2014 at 6:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

'Poetry in Motion' - Johnny Tillotson and Bobby Vee. That brings back memories.

Jan 2, 2014 at 6:54 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

If Andrew Motion has had a genuine Damascus moment, then credit to him. Unfortunately like a lot of public figures he is only interested on which side his toast is buttered.The position of Poet Laurete should be retitled Political Laurete, as governments throughout history have idintified the value of propaganda. In the old days this was mainly done via songs, ballads, handbills and yes music and poetry. Motion was/is just a government lackey - nothing changes.
I liked Schrodingers Cat summation above at 4-27 pm. Puts his finger on it.
As a bit of a scribbler over the years I have found one of the best ways to deflate stuffed shirts is through satire.
The following is something I have written.


Chocolate fireguards sprout from coast to coast
Where's Don Quixote when needed most,
Great tricorn'd sticks poking nature's eye
Cruciform's proving the global lie
Promgulated as 'man-made warming'
Junk science which is the real warning,
Naked emperors must one day heed
Cries to dress their naked funding greed.

The new inquisition denies any
Contrarian views of the many,
Opposed to the Gospel of Al Gore
Stake burnings to rival those of yore;
Censored scientists striving to be heard
Voices drowned by the stampeding herd
Of sycophantic media hacks
'Publish and be damned' - but wont print facts.

David Bellamy and Johnnie Ball
Scientists of repute before their fall,
'the truth is out there' but you can bet
It's only found on the internet;
Joe Stalin and Goebbels taught them well
Ostracise opponents who might tell
The story behind the propaganda
Of the tax gathering agenda.

So-called experts daily dose of doom
Shepherding sheep to the fold in gloom,
Each outrageous global warming claim
Printed as fact to apportion blame;
The drip feed gets more inedible
As the claims get more incredible,
Canutists ministers do not know
That Carbon Dioxide makes plants grow.

Unimpressed cats fed a vegan dish
To 'Save the Planet's' declining fish,
A U N panel recently vows
To tax the emissions of dairy cows;
Science purporting to verify facts
Subsumed by powers to generate tax,
Sinister canards will only die
With seekers of truth like you and I.

And yes like Colin Porter and Philip Bratby above, I always associate Jonny Tillitson with Motion and Poetry.
Nostalgia aint wot it used to be!

Jan 2, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy


You probably didn't think to check, but Motion's mum died relatively young and as a late result of a accident when he was 17.

He and I were at the same school in the winter of 1962/3 so I can see why he might think it's been warming since.

BTW, he has not been Poet Laureate since 2009.

Jan 2, 2014 at 1:17 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


If it were a discussion on the poetic laxative powers of herbs, it could be a thyme and Motion study…

That said, having just read “the Sorcerer’s Mirror”, I can – philistine that I am – say that I am not impressed. What is it about, apart from a brief sortie into a showery London garden? Why should a puddle evoke images of baffled caribous and polar bears? What was the guy smoking before he went outside? However, while I admit that much poetry is beyond me, I can see the beauty in the Tennyson work, and the wit in Patrick Healy’s.

Jan 2, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

So has Motion has fallen between two stools?

Jan 2, 2014 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

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