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Ode to Earth

We inhabit a spinning planet which shudders with the march of elephants, sparkles with glaciers and shrieks with the cries of territorial birds. It is fragile, it is complex and it is irreplaceable. As such, I offer you a love song to Earth which I hope will also double as a call to action.



Mottled marble in the dark,
From giant’s fingers flung.
She pirouettes around an orb,
The fiery, golden sun.

The other planets also dance,
Trajectories unique.
And like the Earth their moons despun,
These children mild and meek.

On outer arm of Milky Way
They turn like all the rest.
This gilded spiral mass of stars
A shining cosmic nest.

Andromeda approaches her,
A larger galaxy.
They’ll coalesce eventually
With wondrous alchemy.

And yet this tiny, coloured ball
Is all most people know.
So very few have pierced the tip
Of atmospheric glow.

Earth’s monoliths and silver lakes,
Her oyster-crusted shores.
Lush perfumed winds of lavender
And creatures on all fours.

The island chains that dot the globe,
Volcanic and alive.
Or ancient lands that billow dust
Where reptiles bake and thrive.

Proud glaciers of crystal blue
Which score the helpless rock.
Mesmeric beauty perilous,
Yet tourists gladly flock.

Sleek alpine grasses peeking through
The lavish, creamy snow.
Wildflowers springing from the green,
Mosaic on plateaux.

The tangerine of lions’ fur,
The rosy cockatoo.
Grey howling wolves on stormy nights,
A rousing, fierce tattoo.

And yet we do not recognise
This jewel we’ve been bestowed.
We do not see her gaping wounds,
We plunder and we goad.

We humans with our square-edged lives
And soundproof, tower homes.
Igniting coal and mining deep,
Earth’s melancholic moans.

The ozone layer delicate
And torn in southern skies.
The chlorine atom is to blame,
From cans of spray it flies.

The UV light is stronger now,
We cower at its might.
The phytoplankton are reduced,
Our burning skin a sight!

Vast coral reefs are ghosting too,
The warming seas a scourge.
Insidious acidity,
These biomes on the verge.

A carbon storehouse oceans are,
Repository for greed.
The seashells are a-weakening,
These signals we must heed.

And runoff from our farmers’ fields
Spreads nutrients galore.
The algal blooms then choke our fish,
We’ve waged unwitting war!

A living, breathing thing she is,
A haven for us all.
Why can’t we feel her pulsing heart
Or hear her desperate call?

She is the only home we have
And yet we do not care.
Solutions are within our reach,
Resources we must share.

Holistic should our thinking be
With synergy a must.
She’s more than just the sum of parts,
Reductionists distrust!

Renewable technology
Is deeply ethical
And fusion is a goal of ours,
Its products plentiful.

So do not say there is no hope,
We cannot give up yet.
A rarer pearl cannot be found,
Good deeds, the same, beget.


By Sophie Chenoweth (2017)

Illustration by Natalie Betts (2017)

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