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Lay for the Day
11th July

1987: the United Nations proclaims Matej Gaspar, born in Zagreb (then Yugoslavia, now Croatia), to be the Earth’s five billionth live human being. In 1990, to commemorate this milestone, 11th July was declared World Population Day.
In 1999, the global population hit the six billion mark. In March 2012 it was estimated to have reached seven billion. The previous billions had been: one in 1800; two in 1930; three in 1960; and four in 1975. The rate of growth is thought to have peaked, though, and the subsequent billion-milestones will be passing slightly slower. Still the world may have a population of 16 billion by the end of this century.

XII. The Earth

Earth should have shaken when we put her first
Beneath our feet; trembled in forewarning
Of her current throes; shrunk from the morning
Glare of our eyes; and when the first blade burst
From the flint, shuddered at the beast she’d nursed.
Soon the rich, folded robes of her spawning
Would be stripped from her back by these scorning
Offspring of hers, the latest and the worst.
How long she laboured to provide the store
We’d waste in twenty thousand years of youth
Our time-ungrasping minds dare not conceive.
Stunned, depleted, cracked, earth lies at our door,
Past hoping that within one voice will grieve
Above the coins’ din, brassy and uncouth.

John Gibbens
from Legacy


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar