Sunday, April 22, 2007

Song of Proserpine -- a National Poetry Month post for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

The one day of all the year that we focus on the earth, how much we owe to it, and what we can do to give back to it.

That's a bit harsh, I'll grant you. Many of us think about issues of ecology all year 'round, and do what we can to help out. We recycle, turn off lights and appliances when not in use, try to reduce our carbon footprints, etc. Conversely, there are many folks who, even on Earth Day, sail "obliviously on". Which reminds me of a poem by Calvin Trillin called "The Effect on his Campaign of the Release of George W. Bush's College Transcript":

Obliviously on he sails,
With marks not quite as good as Quayle's.

I believe the current president's marks on the environment aren't much better, frankly, so that is one of our Earth Day poems after all.

But here's another, written in the 19th century by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

Song of Proserpine

Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
Thou from whose immortal bosom
Gods and men and beasts have birth,
Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

If with mists of evening dew
Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Till they grow in scent and hue
Fairest children of the Hours,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

I love the images of Mother Earth here, a nurturing goddess. Now, for all of us to learn to nurture her back.

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