The Earth is our home, it is the most important place for all of us – it acts as our collective living space, somewhere we ought to feel safe, somewhere we can experience all of life’s wonders. The Earth rejoices with us while we are happy and weeps with us while we are sad, carrying the weight of humanity, all the while itself mourning the loss of life due to a plethora of changes, both within the climate and as a result of industrialisation. Yet looking past all these evolutions, the Earth still remains central to our understanding of living. Still, despite all the drastic alterations that occur day to day, the Earth remains our constant in the realm of poetry and literature. What is it that draws us in so close, when continually we are being distanced from it, the more technological advancements we uncover? From the Ancient Greeks to the Romantics to contemporary poets, nature has always been at the forefront of literary works, helping us to emphasise the picture of magnificence we see and feel all around us.
One of my personal favourite poets when it comes to using nature as a way to write about one’s feelings and experiences is undoubtedly Robert Frost. This American poet used his rural surroundings in New England to introspectively and realistically portray the plagues of life. The almost conversational tone of the poems really intrigue me – is the Earth really so vital in day-to-day conversation? What if we didn’t have an Earth on which to base our thoughts? If you think about it, every sentiment bears a resemblance to the wild sprigs of green on this planet, the most complex ideas first shooting out as tiny little blossoms before eventually growing stronger and stronger into fully-fledged things. And maybe our perceptions never make it past the minuscule shoot stage, weathered down by new information, changing path entirely. That is what I find most curious about life: the sheer parallels we can draw between our lives as intellectual humans and the courses of the most natural elements. Fascinating how every day we tend to think of them as such different things, constantly differentiating between plant cells and human cells, organisms that just follow biological norms and organisms who have so-called free will. We’re not that different after all; the Earth is our constant.
Temporarily going back to Robert Frost, I’d have to say that my favourite of his poems has got to be Fire and Ice. It so perfectly depicts the limitations of humanity, as with much of Frost’s other poetry. In case you haven’t read it before, I will insert said poem here
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
As you can see, the poem talks about two elements of nature, fire and ice, fundamental to Earth, whilst linking it to human emotions and actions, vividly creating an impression that our states of being have the power to alter the innate path of the weather, amongst other abiotic factors. Like I have said, we are intrinsically and drastically connected to this Earth.
The Earth connects us whilst simultaneously it is the Earth that separates us. The Earth helps us determine what we feel and at the same time what we feel can impact our Earth. All the same… the Earth is our constant.