> Les Barker & the Mrs Ackroyd Band > Songs and Poems > Elephant
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Elephant


[words Les Barker / music Martin Carthy]

Elephant is a poem from Les Barker’s book Reign of Terrier that was sung and played by Martin Carthy on the Les Barker 1992 album Some Love.

June Tabor sang Elephant in 1992 too on her album Angel Tiger to the tune An Ribhinn Donn by H. Whyte.


Martin Carthy sings Elephant

We once were thousands, we roamed the plain;
We once were thousands when time began;
Ten thousand clouds sailing southern lands;
Cut down to size by the hands of man.

They came like gods with the minds of fools
They straightened nature to fit their plan;
We lived with nature by nature’s rules,
Such rules that break beneath the yoke of man.

They came with guns and they came to kill;
They stained the earth with my mother’s blood.
And still they come; there’s nothing to still
The hand of man till we’re gone for good?

As down she lay and our eyes were filled;
We willed her live on through all the day;
We gathered round, we grey, soundless hills;
We covered her then we went away.

Mankind has murdered my family
For art, for greed and for vanity;
He’ll kill until there’s nothing to see
Only her likeness in ivory.


Poem copied from Reigns of Terrier with adaptions to the singing of Martin Carthy by Reinhard Zierke.