Earth Day 2022 lands the same month the United Nations issued a particularly dire warning that it is “now or never” to act to stop the damage we are causing to our planet from runaway greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse effect.
And while it seems governments in many countries, including the UK, seem to be opting for the ‘never’ option, it’s worth pausing to consider why the existence of a healthy natural world and functional is not only a prerequisite for human life, but it is also a source of inspiration for man that has not diminished throughout the existence of our species.
Earth Day is meant to give us an opportunity to celebrate our planet, not just serve as one more day to remind us how much we misuse it.
So to emphasize that what we have is worth concerting to protect, the writers for The Independent chose some of their favorite poems that relate in some way to the natural world. Enjoy.
The Sick Rose by William Blake
O Rose you are sick.
The invisible worm,
Who flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Discovered your bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does your life destroy.
This enigmatic short poem, only 34 words over two stanzas, appeared in the Visionary Romantic Poet’s Songs of Experience in 1794 and could serve as a metaphor for many things, but it is more obviously about the agony of observing. the suffering of a loved one, powerless to intervene.
But Blake’s Sick Rose could represent the entire natural world in a microcosm, the “invisible worm” representing the forces of pollution conspiring to undermine and endanger it. A poignant thought from a poet writing and illustrating his verses at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Joe Sommerlad, journalist
Ghosts on My Tongue by Kat Lyons
I was a bookish child
Chased new words like butterflies, discovered them
Pinned to novels from my local library
Crept over them
As they floated
On the margins of adult conversations
Nervously avoiding my easy understanding
I learned a new word the other day-
The term has Tolkien connotations
An 80’s kid I guess he was talking in a Skekis croak
‘ling’ suffix adds diminutive charm
Make it sound cute
It’s neither of those things
It’s the word for a creature that’s the last of its kind
This long extended moment measured
In a beating heart
The inspiration/expiration of a single pair of lungs
Before the wave of extinction rolls in
I roll it between my lips
This loneliest word
It tastes like ashes
Ghosts on my tongue
I chose this poem because it alludes to the excruciating pain I sometimes feel as I connect with the devastating destruction of nature my generation has inflicted on our precious land.
And because I believe in opening ourselves to this deep pain, we can tap into the courage to defend it and become peaceful warriors for its protection and repair.
It is possible for us to step back from the precipice and bequeath their rightful legacy to future generations of humans and creatures, of a thriving and bountiful natural world once again.
Let there be no more endlings taking their devastating last breath. Donnachadh McCarthy, columnist
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You don’t have to be good.
You don’t have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repentant.
You just have to let the sweet beast of your body
Tell me about despair, yours, and I’ll tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
move through the landscapes,
on meadows and deep trees,
mountains and rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the pure blue air,
come home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely you are,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call you like wild geese, hard and exciting –
again and again announcing your place
in the family of things.
Through trillions of possibilities, billions of galaxies, and millions of years, what are the odds that you – reading this article – are here, now?
How often do I forget to revel in the wonder of existence when I am caught up in the banality of everyday life.
“Wild Geese” is my reminder that the safest way home is found in nature. Rita Issa, columnist
Instructions for not giving up by Ada Limón
More than bursting fuchsia funnels
of the crabapple tree, more than that of the neighbor
almost obscene display of cherry branches jostling
their cotton candy-colored flowers on the slate
spring rainy sky is the greening of the trees
it really touches me. When all the shock of white
and the taffy, trinkets and trinkets of the world, go
the sidewalk strewn with confetti according to,
the leaves are coming. Patient, industrious, green skin
growing despite all that winter has done to us, a return
to the strange idea of a life going on despite
the disorder of us, the evil, the void. Well then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a smooth new leaf
fanning out like a fist on an open palm, I’ll take it all.
At Ada LimonInstructions for not giving up speaks to me about the resilience of nature and the human spirit – it’s a brief, sharp reminder of the beauty of the world, even when shrouded in pain. As we emerge from the pandemic, as we continue the fight to protect our planet; this poem is like a totem: a reminder of what is worth saving in the first place. Victoria Richards, editor at Indy Voices and poet. A collection of his work, Primers IV, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019.
The Tree Accord by Elise Paschen
The neighbor calls the Siberian Elm
a “weed” tree, requires us to breathe
it down, said the leaves overwhelm
his property, the square backyard.
It is collar and tie. A weedy tree?
Branches hide buildings, subway tracks,
his piece of garden. We do not agree,
recover sap, heartwood, wild bark.
He declares the tree “dangerous”.
We take shelter under a pile of leaves, crossroads
for squirrels, branch house for sparrows, jays.
The balcony absorbs the shade.
The chatter drowns out the cars below.
The sun branches out. The leaves are overflowing.
The tree will remain. We tell him “no”.
Root deep through the pavement, Elm.
In my mother’s garden there is a large London plane tree which has grown with us over the years. This poem reminds me of some of the little fights she had with the neighbors, and why it was always so important to us to keep the tree intact.
The comfort that a favorite tree or patch of nature can bring has become even clearer during the lockdown. I think this poem is about the need to preserve these little reminders of the natural world, as well as the larger issue of deforestation. A report published last week by the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change found that only 3% of the planet’s surface is ecologically intact.
Hopefully, we’ll end up approaching deforestation with the same defiance as the last line of the poem: “Root deep through the causeway, Elm.” Emma Snaith, Editor-in-Chief
Alice Oswald’s Stone Skimmer
Descending through the two small fields,
disturb the little showy flies that it touches
the restless thistles, their dried skins clinging to their bones.
abundant flowering fading diminishing.
Among the thistles and puddles of the wind
he walks he can almost smell
the worn fur of his flesh, a ghost-seed on a flurry
doomed to float in endless, widening circles.
Stones without eyes, their silence swells and breathes easily in the water,
barely move in the belly of the rivers.
Her mind so rushed and neglected, full of forms
overflowing blooming darkening diminishing:
in the space of five inches between sky and sky
he touches a stone just at the snap of it
contacting the water, the incredible length
Light keeps raising its gliding force
I was brought up in the Wye Valley and regularly went swimming in one of the tributaries of the Wye – the Monnow – which we reached by walking through fields full of cattle, to the bank where chamomile grew in great abundance. When I was a child, this is where I learned to skim the stones, sliding, bending low and throwing rocks on the surface of the river. The Wye and the Monnow are now seriously compromised by pollution. Harry Cockburn – Environment Correspondent