Earth Poems

‘…living things – including ourselves – and the planet that has produced them form a continuous system and act as such. Life, then, has not been just a casual passenger of the earth’s development. It has always been and remains a crucial agent in determining its course…we are still amazingly ready to think of our species as a mere chance visitor on this planet, as something too grand to have developed here. Of course it is true that we are a somewhat special kind of primate, one that is particularly adaptable through culture and gifted with singular talents. But those gifts and talents still come to us from the earth out of which we grow and to which we shall return. The top of our tree still grows from that root as much as the lower branches. We cannot live elsewhere.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

‘The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground.’ Genesis 1, The Bible

‘…in the endless variation of the forms assumed by living beings, we have observed nothing but the natural product of the forces originally possessed by the substance of the universe.’ TH Huxley, 1825-95

‘Know now that you are born along with these/ clouds, winds, and stars, and ever-moving seas/ and forest dwellers. This your nature is.// Lift up your heart again without fear, sleep in the tomb, or breathe the living air,/ this world you with the flower and with the tiger share.’ Passion, Kathleen Raine, 1943

‘The poetry of earth is never dead.’ On the Grasshopper And Cricket, John Keats, 1817

‘Our character lies for hundreds of millions of years, bound to three atoms of oxygen and one of calcium, in the form of limestone… Its story, which was once immobile, now turned tumultuous. It was caught by the wind, flung down on earth…breathed in by a falcon…was expelled. It dissolved three times in the water of the sea, once in the water of a cascading torrent…It traveled with the wind for eight years… on the sea and among the clouds, over forests, deserts, and limitless expanses of ice; then it stumbled into capture and the organic adventure. Carbon, in fact, is a singular element: it is the only element that can bind itself in long stable chains without a great expense of energy, and for life on earth (the only one we know so far) precisely long chains are required. Therefore carbon is the key element of living substance: but its promotion, its entry into the living world, is not easy and must follow an obligatory, intricate path which has been clarified (and not yet definitively) only in recent years. If the elaboration of carbon were not a common daily occurrence, on the scale of billions of tons a week, wherever the green of a leaf appears, it would by full right deserve to be called a miracle.’ Primo Levi, on his “first literary dream” on the life of a carbon atom, which came to him in Auschwitz , The Periodic Table, trans, Abacus, 1986

‘Brothers,  remain true to the earth.’ Nietzsche

‘The ideal universe for us is one very much like the universe we inhabit. And I would guess that this is not really much of a co-incidence.’ Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain: the Romance of Science, Hodder and Stoughton, 1979

Earth is the same language

Earth is the same language, written in rock -

water, soil, symbiosis with light; we are one,

voluntarily dreaming the same gorgeous world,

where positivity, beauty in all her guises - even

uglier dark expressions of adaptation, evolution,

is light and tool, driving life principle, relentless

pursuit of being, that will never let us down, fail;

where the loss of one flower impresses our mind,

diminishes us, even an un-named bloom dying

on an un-named peak in a far-off foreign land,

in governing shade of our own pitiful garden

aping Earth; the burning of one tree is painful,

hurting the brotherhood of all that lives; came

streaming, changing, from that galactic dust -

verdant cloud, seeded gas - though seeds then

were not translated into living genes, to script,

but were dreams in the darkness as flowers

are now - viva-in-potential, never knowing

the time of their birth when soil springs

to attention at this chronological map -

sparking the place, the mark, right now; here.

What circumstance and time to bring us thus -

soil of stars, flesh of soil;

a whispering in the water

made manifest, as sung music

of the Word; everything’s kin.

‘This dental arsenal tells me how extermination came at all times to lop off the surplus of life; it says: ‘On the very spot where you stand meditating upon a shiver of stone, an arm of the sea once stretched, filled with truculent devourers and peaceable victims… I seem to hear the thunder of the waves. Sea-urchins, Lithodomi, Petricolae, Pholaidids have left their signatures upon the rock…You stand stupefied before the cital ardour of the days of old, which was able to supply such a pile of relics in a mere nook of earth.’ JH Fabre, Fossils, Souvenirs of a Naturalist, 1901

Whole Stories of Earth

Written in the Genome, whole stories of Earth;

from first mysterious molecules, manipulated

by the evolving processes of life, in concert

with exigencies of light, temperature strains -

some Will passing over water, coagulating

into early script - some first word writing

form into lasting shape - genesis of identity,

heredity; one weird dreaming cell inheriting

the Earth because of one dream - becoming

everything - seed-being, soil, water-product;

space-dust sculpted with enormous art -

hands of time and Nature; force echoing

original energy, life-spark, planet principle -

endless reverberation rippling through stars.

Note from the author
exploring the project

    Gene Zoo
    Gene Garden
    Earth Poems
        Mass Extinction
        Nature & Science notes
        Goddess Visions

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