Some Verse for the Earth

April 22, 2010

If after waking this morning you noticed a palpable buzz in the air, fear not for your senses do not deceive you and your coffee is not to blame.  Today is simply a big day.  As you are almost certainly aware after three weeks of non-stop poetic feasting, National Poetry Month is still going strong.  What’s more, today is Earth Day, and when two celebrations of this magnitude converge, the resulting super holiday demands proper commemoration.  Thankfully, we have the wonderfully unique poetry collection News of the Universe with which to mark this worthy occasion.  Whether you’re looking to motivate your first reducing, reusing, and recycling efforts, to renew your vow to live a leaner, greener lifestyle, or to simply read some breathtaking poetry, News of the Universe is a book that will leave you awestruck and inspired.

Learn more about poet Robert Bly

First commissioned by the Sierra Club in 1980, News of the Universe was originally envisioned as a straightforward anthology of ecology-related poems.  In the hands of poet Robert Bly, however, the project grew into something much more.  Acting as editor, essayist, translator, and poet, Bly crafted a highly original and philosophical work that advocates for a greater human connection to and respect for the Earth.  In News of the Universe, nature is not merely the setting for our daily human drama, but a community of animals, plants, water, and objects that possess an “intelligence” and a “soul” that are inextricably linked with our own.  To track the evolution of this environmentally-enlightened viewpoint, Bly collected 150 poems from across the centuries and the globe by such poets as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich HolderlinRainer Maria Rilke, Juan Ramon JimenezGary Snyder, and Rumi.  Artistically speaking, the chosen poems are both beautiful and musical, and as an environmental call-to-arms, they are a revelation.  They will stir your spirit, spur your conservation efforts, and forever change how you think of that tree outside your window.  You can sample a bit of this magic below in the trio of shorter poems selected from Bly’s book.  After that, check out News of the Universe in its entirety.  It will inspire you to make today’s super holiday a year-round celebration.

Casida of the Rose
by Federico Garcia Lorca (translated by Robert Bly)
The rose
was not searching for the sunrise:
almost eternal on its branch,
it was searching for something else.
The rose
was not searching for darkness or science:
borderline of flesh and dream,
it was searching for something else.
The rose
was not searching for the rose.
Motionless in the sky
it was searching for something else.
The Most of It
He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far-distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush — and that was all.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of the wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel about me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
[Hint:  Select “Search All Libraries” to locate “News of the Universe.”]

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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