There are many approaches to interpreting the human-Earth relationships, from the Sciences to the Social Sciences to the Humanities, and apparently each of them is needed when it comes to dealing with the complex, uncertain and serious challenges posed by the Anthropocene.
Between Aristotle and a cost-benefit analysis, or between the precautionary principle and a cap-and-trade system, why not take a break and think about the human-Earth relationships in terms of… emotions, words and rhymes?
Emotions and poetry are not the solution to the problems of the Anthropocene, but nevertheless they can provide stimuli and motivation to ameliorate our behaviour towards the environment.
At least, this is what made me write the poem that follows, and with this hope I would like to share it with you.
You will move me that day too
Sitting on a rock
in the middle of a field
I was being enfolded
by a dancing gust of wind
turning and whispering
during its stay
then calling the leaves
and going away.
But it wasn’t just a friend
or a travelmate
the background of a painting
or the shaking of a landscape
it was there, and it was energy
the sign of a life
that goes beyond mine.
A warm, vibrating life
of reassuring, solar light
a life that sometimes twirls
with fresh ribbons made of wind
and those brave waterfalls
that dive from the cliffs
in marvelous ponds
while the ocean currents every day
chase each other
in an endless game
and the geothermal warmth
the planet like a heart
does with its beats.
… but I am one of those irresponsible
and ungrateful human beings
that ignored so naively
all these energy gifts.
I am one of those tiny brains
who believed they knew it all
and I am one of those tiny lives
who thought every right belonged
to their own interest and pleasure
beyond any considerate measure.
I am one of those, indeed
who exhumated at a dangerous speed
coal, oil and also gas
buried treasures of the past
everything burnt in a blink of an eye
in a nearsighted wanton lifestyle.
…but awakening the dead is not wise
and neither is picking the same flower twice…
And now that the dream belongs to the past
a biased equilibrium is what is left
corpses scattered out of empty graves
new and unknown dangers to face…
What can I say?
What can I do?
I am the guilty to blame
I’m not allowed to complain
I can only stop and look around
then apologize stooping down
in the dustbin I shall throw the claims,
those huge requests that now I must pay
and I shall use, with respectful measure
the gifts spontaneously given by nature.
And in the end I shall listen to the speech
that is gently sung by the gust of wind…
… this gust of wind is messing
my hair and my soul …
This gust of wind says that a piece
of the Great Life
is breathing through me
partly matter and partly soul
being humile and serious shall be my goal
energy is what I took
and what I will return back
the matter I am made of
shall not be wasted
now I am using it, but it’s not mine
and now I feel I can talk
to the Great Life:
You don’t belong to me
I belong to you
one day I’ll come back to your arms
and you will move me that day too.
Alice Damiano is a PhD student at McGill University, also enrolled in E4A. She is interested in the social, political, economic and information mechanisms that affect human-environment relationships.