Have you ever stopped for a moment to think
about all the Materials that we use in the modern world
Nowadays there is a lot of interest in the wonders
of the Natural World and the environment
and the preservation thereof

And sometimes the production and extraction
of materials is seen as the enemy of nature
But unless we all wish to revert to a primitive
lifestyle, with no manufactured artifacts
the use and development of materials is vital

I suppose our awareness of materials began
when humankind developed the use of tools
to till the soil, and build shelters to live in
The discovery of the wheel must have been
a major breakthrough in development of mobility

And so we began to look around at Materials that
might prove useful in what we now call rather grandly
The Built Environment!

So here is a reminder of a few of the Materials – the list could be almost endless


Thank goodness for timber not just for the fire
So many creations wood can inspire
From beams for our roofs and planks for our floors
And carvings to decorate ancient church doors

Thank goodness for steel which shows such great strength
Upholding our structures, making ships for defence
Thanks goodness for plastic so strong and so light
Framing our specs and making them bright!

Thank goodness for textiles to wrap us up warm
For carpets and curtains our rooms to transform
For shiny ceramics making plates that are durable
And, of course, the convenience of the public urinal!

Thank goodness for glass that lets in the light
And in our lenses to improve weakening sight
And then there is rubber abundant in tyres
And now glass-fibre in broadband’s sleek wires

Then there’s brick and stone and perennial slate
Essential to builders, despite their great weight
And for our roads, little use without coatings of tar
On bumpy highways we would never get far

Of course paper has been vital to our modern existence
Decorating walls, for letters, its uses persistent
And dare I mention its use in personal hygiene
The greatest invention there ever has been!

And all those other metals like copper and zinc
And aluminium in the shape of our kitchen sink
Iron and nickel and lead for our pipes
Even silver and gold used by much richer types

There are those modern materials invented by science
Acrylics, PVC, polystyrene – to pack each appliance
By chemical wizardry new substances  grown
Using methods which previously were quite unknown

No doubt in the future we’ll use matter from space
Undiscovered products will become commonplace
So let’s give thanks for materials of infinite range
Whose application has brought to us such a great gain

Ken Fisher

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