Poetry Friday: Poems For The Planet

Nov 12, 2019

This week, Northern Arizona University will host a first of its kind climate summit involving all 3 state universities. Climate 2020: Seven Generations for Arizona will bring together educators, scientists, tribal leaders and youth activists to discuss sustainable resource decisions regarding threats posed by a shifting climate. In this week’s Poetry Friday segment, NAU biologist and Earth Notes writer Liz Blaker pairs two original poems about the planet’s resilience and humanity’s impact on it. 

Earth from space
Credit NASA

LB: So, I have these two poems that are related to each other. One is called This Place of Beauty and the other is called After We Have Gone. I think once you hear them you’ll see how they do relate to each other. In the end of the second poem, just know that it’s actually a hopeful poem about the resilience of nature and the universe.

The issues with our climate change and things that are just terribly heartbreaking, like the terrible decline in numbers of birds species that we’ve seen since 1970, have made me think about how the world is changing and how we’re affecting it. I’m always inspired by beauty, and that’s where This Place of Beauty came from.

This place of beauty

Of swaying grasses and tangled flowers,

Of mountains rising

This place of beauty

Of viruses in crystal shells of protein,

of tornados roaring

This place of beauty

Of infinite stars holding planets in their thrall

Of silence singing

This place of beauty

Of tumbling creeks hurtling through canyons,

Of deer listening

This place of beauty

Of buildings crumbling and dust rising

Of Earth moving

This place of beauty

Of ancient seas washing infant shores

Of volcanoes spewing

This place of beauty

Of violet skies with roiling clouds,

Of meteors falling

This place of beauty

Of rock spires balancing over distant valleys

Of falcons diving

This place of beauty

of energy creating matter

Of matter reverting.

So this next poem, After We Have Gone, is about our impact on nature and, sort of about us and where we’re going.

After we have gone,

Eden will rejoice.

Dams will crumble,

Rivers will run free again.

The Colorado River

Will reunite with her lover, the Sea

Her waters will wander across parched earth,

Long dormant seeds will send up green tendrils.

The air will hum with the music of insects.

Bejeweled dragonflies will patrol the reeds,

on iridescent wings.

After we have gone,

Trees will push their way up through highways.

Grizzlies will come down from the mountains,

bringing their children to feast on farm apples;

Cabbages will bloom.

Meadowlarks will sing among waving grasses,

with no mowers to destroy their nests.

We are an experiment that has gone wrong,

We are a reactor melting down,

fueled by greed.

We are racing towards...

Eden will rejoice.

We could have rejoiced with her

if only we had rejected greed,

thrown out corruption,

refused convenient poisons,

controlled our population.

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.