A beautiful pigsty.

I love the idea of the practical ballad as Ronald Duncan has done with his advice on building a pigsty.

I am going to start writing my own practical ballads.


Practical Ballads (I)

The site: choose a dry site.
Avoid building against a bank.
Leaning a building to a bank may save putting up a wall,
but dampness will seep through,
you’ll see your mortar sweat,
you’ll be feeding to keep your pig warm,
this way she’ll not fatten profitably;
you may get roast out of it, but no bacon.

The size: Floor eight foot by eight foot good –
and slope off to a gutter;
pig’s urine swells the bean pods; cover from flies.
Height: that is your problem, your comfort,
for it is you who have to get in and fling the dung out,
at least once a week, this is most important.

Now is the time to be generous:
Throw the straw in, not one wad, but two, three, four –
The more straw the more dung
The more dung the more straw, eventually.
Oh, cover the pig, she’ll trample it.

As to the door, observe the stable, and copy that;
Make it of seasoned wood that won’t warp as mine did.
Don’t buy a bolt get a smith to make one –
Strength, not ornament, is necessary.
And that goes for the pig-sty, and poetry.

Ronald Duncan


One of the greatest sins of humanity is hubris. From Gilgamesh to Fred Goodwin, there is nothing new under the sun. Each has his nemesis and it gets no less painful to watch. If we are to achieve any kind of maturity then it will come about hand in hand with humility. In terms of our relationship to the creation, we have often thought of ourselves as subduers, caretakers and the world there at our disposal. We have plundered and exploited and now we may be approaching humanity’s nemesis, unless we can mature. If we learned to be more humble in our attitude to nature, we would dispense with ideas of sovereignty and even stewardship. Instead, we would see ourselves as servants and nurturers. The Romanian word “Gospoder” combines two ideas, that of a householder who cares deeply and takes a pride in a home; and the idea of a diligent, hardworking person, who is tireless in providing for the needs of all in the house. “Gospoder” seems to capture, in a more wholesome way, the kind of relationship with nature that we need to embrace.