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Every Day is Earth Day: Musings


On a practical note, I believe that if everyone had to dispose of their own trash in their own back yard, we would long ago have made recycling routine, stopped purchasing unnecessary packaging, and sworn off plastic bags. Imagine your back yard if, for the last five to 10 years, all your and your family's trash were deposited there. We never see the mountainous trash dump, and so, we never "know what we do."

On a poetic note, Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem Binsey Poplars calls us to recognize--and feel--what we do and do not do, to and with the earth. What will the "after-comers" (our children and grandchildren) see and know of our natural world? Is the landmark documentary Planet Earth only that--a documentary meant to preserve the memory of our world? Some have said it is. It can also be a celebration of our natural world that inspires us to care for it and all upon and within it. We need only feel for Mother Earth what Hopkins felt for these beautiful trees to remember we have nothing without Her.


Binsey Poplars, felled 1879
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
Áll félled, félled, are áll félled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew -
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To tóuch, her béing só slénder,
That, like this sleek & seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.

For more information on Gerard Manley Hopkins, see Victorian Web (although I think the author here makes light of Hopkins's gift for weaving sound and sense together). To read more of GMH's work, see Bartleby.
Top Photo, copyright 2007, Ysabel de la Rosa.

Comments

E B Hawley said…
"We never see the mountainous trash dump, and so, we never 'know what we do.'" That is one HUGE good point you make.

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