Friday, September 20, 2019

Poetry Friday: Unleaving

When I wrote my What I Learned in May post this year, I commented that my growing interest in birds seems to coincide with birds disappearing. I didn't realize how right I was. Yesterday's news story about the bird population in North America, and its stunning, overwhelming decline in the past fifty years, horrified me.

I'm not aware of an organized climate strike here in Port-au-Prince today, but we've been out of school all week due to fuel strikes, and you know, those things are not unconnected. We're dependent on fossil fuels here on our island, and we have to import them all, and not only are they going to run out some day, but also burning them is causing damage to our planet. So many unsustainable situations! It's still not fully light yet as I'm writing these words, but people in other parts of the world are already marching, carrying signs reminding us that there is no Planet B.

I am going to write a requiem for the birds, but in the meantime I thought of this Hopkins poem, and the way it reminds us that grieving for loss of natural things is partly grieving for our own mortality.  I hope we can preserve something for the next generation, so that after we are gone, there will still be a beautiful planet for them to enjoy.

Spring and Fall
Gerard Manley Hopkins

to a young child

Márgaret, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow's springs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

By the way, I missed Rebecca's post of a couple of weeks ago where she shared her Summer Poetry Swaps, including a poem I wrote about a sloth.

Linda is hosting the roundup today.


Irene Latham said...

Oooh, I want to read your Requiem for the Birds. Also, this reminds me of the wonderful LOST WORDS collection of poems. At one time I started writing a series of bird poems after Audubon prints... and that reminds me of the wonderful book OKAY FOR NOW by Gary D. Schmidt! (My head is like a revolving bookshelf.) Thank you, dear Ruth! xo

Linda B said...

I hope that many saw that terrible news about the birds. I found it through Audubon, one group trying hard to make change. The pictures I'm seeing of the climate marches are amazing all over the world. Thanks for the poem, Ruth, mournful it is, but a voice to listen to.

jama said...

Such sad news about the birds. All living species are interdependent and interconnected -- so yes, mourning for the birds is mourning for our own mortality. I keep wondering at the shortsightedness of climate deniers.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I, too, was pretty shocked to hear that news about the significant decline of birds! "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone..." The Hopkins poem was a great one to share, but I do look forward to reading your requiem eventually!

Cheriee Weichel said...

'm saving this quote, "grieving for loss of natural things is partly grieving for our own mortality."

I am depressed, but not completely surprised by this news. A few years ago my siblings and I took our mother on a journey to the landscapes of her youth. While we were visiting one of the lakes we ran into a solemn birder who was counting bird species. He told us that certain populations were diminishing and others almost gone. My partner and I lament the loss of meadowlarks in the area where we grew up.
I look forward to reading your requiem.

Michelle Kogan said...

I was very disheartened to hear that even the sparrow and local neighborhood birds have declined–I wish we could move faster towards helping out. Yes when we grieve the lost of wildlife it is our life humanity we "mourn for. I look forward to your bird poem, thanks Ruth.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I am such a fan of Gerard and I know this poem well, but today with a litter of leaves and the thrill of the march on Friday fading, it made cry. I'm sorry too to hear of your fuel strikes. I had such an interesting beginning of a conversation with my father, nearly 80, a Lutheran minister, who marched with me. He is moved to start a climate conversation at his congregation, but he cannot--like many Christians, I fear--imagine his way out of feeling that humans have been given dominion over the earth. "A flock of geese can't take care of the earth," he said. "It's our job." I tried to explain that the job of the flock of geese is to take care of themselves, and that if they are allowed to do that, and all other flocks are allowed the modest survival the ecosystem developed to provide, we'll all be okay. He was pretty sure the geese need us to carry out God's plan for the planet; I'm not sure we humans full of hubris get what that looks like. Thoughts?

Ruth said...

Dominion is such a controlling word, and it's a word that a lot of theology is married to. Can't we caretake, without controlling? So much of our dominion has ended so badly.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, thank you for sharing about the birds and fuel shortage. Where are we all going? Great line: there is no Planet B. So true! We stand united on the topic! I put out on Twitter a quick write poem on the #climatestrike with a poem I wrote last year.

Mary Lee said...

The birds, the insects, the Sumatran's dismal. Yes, GMH, I am grieving.