The late great C.K. Williams thinks through the suffering of the earth — whose suffering is it really?
Is it as I suspect not that rare for you to be
wounded ravaged stripped of so much
of what you wore with seeming pride
your seething glittering oceans your forests
nothing new for you meteors comets
volcanoes extinctions the battering ice ages
so perhaps we shouldn’t psalm poor earth
for truly we moan and despair for ourselves
cast into that future we dread while the time
in which we sorrowed you’ll not have regretted
because how can earth not have a past
and how can earth even with a past so fouled
not notice how we departed leaving our heirs
to mourn this patch this sherd of existence
we’d been so confident we’d cherish forever
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The last lines haunt, and bring up the work of the great wounded landscape photographer Edward Burtynksy, recently profiled in The New Yorker (and esp powerful on-line by the way).
Burtynsky photographs the “wounded ravaged stripped” earth without apology, rather like the earth in Williams’ poem I think, and photographically strips it of us and all our wailing and moaning and shows it as it is. Our feelings about the damage mean so little to the planet really.
Or Burtynsky puts it in The New Yorker story:
“I am not out to tell people a unitary story about what they should do to save the earth but, rather, to give people a picture of what it takes to live the way we do.’ ”