LitScope: The Day the Bulldozers Came by David Orme
For Malaysian Form 3 Students in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca.
The Day the Bulldozers Came
The day the bulldozers came
Rooks were building
Crazy egg baskets in the oaks;
Green flied sizzled by the pond
And a cold-eyed toad
Waited for them.
The day the bulldozers came
Squirrels were scattering
Up three trunks,
And leapt from branches
That were hardly there.
Stirred in his sleep
As the ground trembled,
‘Ha ha!’ he thought,
‘I’m quite safe,
Deep down in the Earth,
No one can get me here.’
Then the bulldozers came.
extracted from Poetry for Pleasure by Sadler & Hayllar
The poet: David Orme
- Born 1948 in England.
- Initially trained as a teacher.
- Full-time writer from 1986.
- Has published over 300 books, including poetry collections and anthologies, fiction for children, non-fiction and teachers books.
What are the stanzas about?
Stanza one shows us the bustling of nature in a forest when the bulldozers came. There was so much happening in the forest like rooks (crows) building nests, the presence of flies by the pond and toads eating them near the pond. This also shows that the bulldozers kind of barged into nature, its occupants unready and oblivious to what is going to happen.
Stanza two indicates that the bulldozers have already started flattening the forest. Squirrels were running up tree trunks and leaping from one branch to another which was hardly there indicates that very few branches were left in the area. The squirrels behaviour can also mean panic because their homes have been compromised.
Instead of focusing on what was happening on land, stanza three talks about this fox sleeping in its den underground. The fox may have been awakened by the trembling ground above it, but thought it would be safe as the fox was deep underground. However, the last line of the stanza indicates the bulldozers have started digging too, possibly reaching where the fox was staying.
So what is the whole poem about then?
This simple three-stanza poem is a simple observation by Poet Orme on modernisation and development. The poem starts with explaining life in a forest before development occurred. During development, the ecosystem and biodiversity is compromised possibly leading to the death of the animals and plants in the area intended for development.
The presence of rooks, flies, toads and the fox indicates that when development occurs, animals and insects living high above in the tree tops, on land or even in ponds and in the ground are not safe from the the bulldozers. When development occurs, all of these would be demolished.
This poem may also be a reminder to people of what would happen if humans continue barging into nature’s doors, killing animals and the plants living within, for the use of humans.
Bulldozers bulldoze things. The role of bulldozers in a forest is to flatten the whole area so that construction can be done. By flattening the area, animals and plants will die. This shows us the destruction of nature and its flora and fauna due to development.
The destruction of forests to make way for development only shows the greediness of humans after money and power. Development brings huge incomes to big companies and helps with the economy, but the lives of the animals and plants that live within are not taken into consideration or even if they did, big companies do not really care about their death, all they bother is that their bank accounts continue seeing triple digit profits.
The act of just barging into a habitat for the sake of development can also be understood as bullying. Animals and plants can not fight back big machines, chemicals and fire, and their inability to retaliate or speak up against humans taking their precious land often makes humans victorious against animals.
The persona, an omniscient narrator, talks about the destruction of flora and fauna during development. His poem talks about the life in a forest before development and he is even able to know what the fox was thinking when the bulldozers were clearing the land above it.
♦ The poem starts with the arrival of bulldozers in the forest or somewhere animals live. Bulldozers were invented to bulldoze things, so they were there to flatten the forest so that construction can take place later. The land can be used for agriculture, commercial or residential buildings.
♦ The presence of oak trees further signifies that the poem is about the natural environment in a forest. The birds, frogs and flies were meant to give a range of animals living in the forest when the bulldozers came.
♦ As the poet lives in England, it is highly likely that the poem was written there, thus explaining the presence of the fox.
♦ The biggest victims of development are animals and plants.
♦ By clearing forests or where animals live, animals and other species will die because of loss of habitat and rampant deforestation can lead to extinction of certain animals or plants.
♦ Protect and conserve the forests and everything within, so that animals too are given a voice.
♦ Love Mother Nature.
This poem has no specific rhythm or rhyme. It has three stanzas of different lengths.
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