The Am Wall Windmill

You built me just to catch the wind
for yourselves and your clever plan
of letting others do your work
and that, that was my lifespan

I spread my sails and crunched the corn
with my teeth of granite stone
Three wars I felt blow over me
and many’s the town musician howled alone

Twice I was destroyed by fire
and once even razed to the ground
Then I was repaired and restored
and again I swooped and whirled around

hour after hour, year in year out
up here on my grassy knoll
and only when the wind briefly slept
did my sails get any rest at all

My millstones kibbled and ground
the maize for your cattle and swine
the wheat for your daily bread
and never once did you hear me complain

I never had an old Don Quixote
plunge at me with his noble lance
and Orwell never put me in his farm
whichever way the wind would dance

Just mindless milling, day after day
my existence was one long drudge
and as hard as ever I tried to fly
I was never once able to even budge

Now I’m old (or let’s say out of style)
and younger ones are catching the breeze
with giant blades on gi-normous towers
of steel and concrete and not to please

Now I’m only a heritage site
a bit like being pensioned off
Instead of milling, I’m painted in oils
or trapped in a tourist photograph

But now and then, when the west wind roars
I dream of a life that could be found
if my sails, instead of grinding grain
would spin and lift me off the ground

Translation: Ian Watson