The Earth for Sale

Original Text: 
Strange Meetings: Poems By Harold Monro (Wiltshire: Laurel Books, 2003): 98-100.
I
1How perilous life will become on earth
2When the great breed of man has covered all.
3The world, that was too large, will be too small.
4Deserts and mountains will have been explored,
5Valleys swarmed through; and our prolific breed,
6Exceeding death ten million times by birth,
7Will halt (bewildered, bored),
8And then may droop and dwindle like an autumn weed.
9How shall we meet that moment when we know
10There is no room to grow;
11We, conscious, and with lonely startled eyes
12Glaring upon ourselves, and with no Lord
13To pray to: judged, without appeal,
14What shall we feel?
15He, being withdrawn, no supplicating cries
16Will call Him back. He'll speak no farther word.
17Can special vision be required to see
18What few pale centuries will take us there,
19Where, at the barrier of the future, we
20Shall stand condemned, in serried ranks, and stare
21At Nothing.-fearing Something may appear?
22The Earth is covered with large auction boards,
23And all her lands are reckoned up for sale.
24The spaces that are now called virgin soil
25Will soon be bought, and covered with great breed
26Of human seed;
27And, when the driven hordes
28Cry ."Food!.".-but find no more for any toil,
29Fear, fear will strike all eyes and faces pale.
30Then no one more will speak,
31But, rising from a murmur to a wail,
32One voice, for all, will, like a Siren, shriek.
II
33Is there no pledge to make at once with Earth
34While yet we have not murdered all her trees;
35Before it is too late for oath or pledge;
36While yet man may be happy in his birth.-
37Before we have to fall upon our knees,
38Clinging for safety to her farthest edge?
39It is not very noble that we kill
40Her lions and tigers, all. Is that our reign?.-
41Then let us build ourselves on earth again.
42What is the human will?
43Is it so clearly better than the ant's?
44And is our life more holy than the plants'?
45They do fulfil their purpose every year,
46And bring no pain, nor fear.
III
47Woe to that miserable last mankind;
48And, when I think of that, I have a dread
49I may awake on earth, again, to find
50Myself, among it, living oh, not dead.
IV
51I had been thinking of that final Earth.
52Then I remembered she herself would lick
53Her own lithe body clean, and from her girth
54Wipe any vermin that might cling too thick.
55Damned! Damned! Apparent conqueror to-day.-
56Oh, evanescent sway!
57O drunken lust!
58O swarming dust!
59Man makes himself believe he has claim
60To plant bright flags on every hill he swarms;
61But in the end, and in his own wild name,
62And for the better prospect of his fame,
63Whether it be a person or a race,
64Earth, with a smiling face,
65Will hold and smother him in her large arms.
Publication Start Year: 
1924
Publication Notes: 
Chapbook (Oct. 1924); Collected Poems, ed. Alida Monro, with prefaces by F. S. Flint and T. S. Eliot (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1933): 40-43.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004