Mrs Cecil Frances “Fanny” Alexander’s 19th century hymn concentrates on the ‘nice’ bits of nature: flowers, birds, purple-headed mountains, sunsets, that sort of thing – a highly selective view in which the worst that could happen to you was a cold wind in winter. But there’s more to life than that.
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small . . .
Except black-, white- and greenflies which are no use at all,
Outsize spiders, jellyfish, big crabs with sideways walks,
Bed-bugs, ringworms, fleas and lice, and slugs with eyes on stalks,
Ants and woodlice (wretched things), all nits and gnats and flies;
Oil-seed rape whose pollen clouds so irritate my eyes;
Squirrels, moles and bluebottles, fat pigeons, rats and mice,
Slithery, slimy, slippery things (not earthworms, they are nice);
Bulldogs, dachshunds, pekingese; big locusts, lampreys, leeches;
Club root, canker, mealy bugs; those wriggly things on beaches;
BSE and foot-and-mouth, meningitis, cancer, AIDS,
Gallstones, tonsils, athlete’s foot, ME that lasts decades,
CJD, MS, TB and ills of longer name,
Some of which just knock you back while others kill and maim.
Sorry, Fanny, do go on. It’s just that you ignore . . .
All things wise and wonderful . . . the things most folk abhor.