The (green) space between


Enlightened city had let you be

till Mammon’s grasp said ‘damn the tree’;

Sometimes only poetry hits the spot. We can’t make it to the Greener Leith AGM tonight and unfortunately we also missed their great event on the Shore (a ‘car free day’ showing how streets can come to life when people have room to move) but here’s a poem by Gordon Peters which sums up beautifully why we must celebrate green space between buildings and what we risk losing by filling every gap.  Click more for the poem.

Tenement  Tree

In blossom or leaf, or russet or bare,

you stand as a sentinel, one of a pair;

your sister along is safer a bit

though developer’s shovel would spew her with grit.

No harm have you done but only sustain

life all around as you drink in the rain,

your listing is said to hold off the axe,

but not from a Council whose ethics are lax.

You’ve heard the yells of women haunted

sheltered Huguenots not wanted,

seen the proud elm yield to the saw,

kept blackbird and squirrel in your maw;

a doomed pigeon you kept on stance

as the peregrine struck just like a lance;

while brambles and currants beside bore fruit,

guarding the tenement you took root.

Enlightened city had let you be

till Mammon’s grasp said ‘damn the tree’;

the planning officer did his best

neighbours rallied, to the provost a pest;

but burgesses whose icon is a tram

determined to build seeing gold in a pan,

yet recession’s cold draft would see gold turn to dust

and you dear tree saved, to await further lust.

Gordon Peters   April 2009

Planning permission for a new building on the ‘unfinished’ edge of the Hart Street tenement threatens the trees.

[you can hear Gordon  at local poetry ‘slams’ in The Strathmore in Iona Streeet Leith. Check The Skinny and The List for details]


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