Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wind on the Water

Planet Earth 

It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet, 
has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness; 
and the hands keep on moving, 
smoothing the holy surfaces. 

—– In Praise of Ironing by Pablo Neruda

It has to be loved the way a laundress loves her linens,
the way she moves her hands caressing the fine muslins
knowing their warp and woof,
like a lover coaxing, or a mother praising.
It has to be loved as if it were embroidered
with flowers and birds and two joined hearts upon it.
It has to be stretched and stroked.
It has to be celebrated.
O this great beloved world and all the creatures in it.
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet.

The trees must be washed, and the grasses and mosses.
They have to be polished as if made of green brass.
The rivers and little streams with their hidden cresses
and pale-coloured pebbles
and their fool's gold
must be washed and starched or shined into brightness,
the sheets of lake water
smoothed with the hand
and the foam of the oceans pressed into neatness.
It has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness.

and pleated and goffered, the flower-blue sea
the protean, wine-dark, grey, green, sea
with its metres of satin and bolts of brocade.
And sky – such an 0! overhead – night and day
must be burnished and rubbed
by hands that are loving
so the blue blazons forth
and the stars keep on shining
within and above
and the hands keep on moving.

It has to be made bright, the skin of this planet
till it shines in the sun like gold leaf.
Archangels then will attend to its metals
and polish the rods of its rain.
Seraphim will stop singing hosannas
to shower it with blessings and blisses and praises
and, newly in love,
we must draw it and paint it
our pencils and brushes and loving caresses
smoothing the holy surfaces.

© 1994 P.K. Page

A short portion of this poem was quoted in Poet's Choice, the collection of essays by Edward Hirsch that I have been working my way through, and discussing here) for the last several days. In Section 59, which begins on page 195, he talks about the work of P. K. [Patricia Kathleen] Page (1916-2010) a Canadian writer who was unfamiliar to me. But I have ordered her book, and look forward to reading some more. I got the full text of the poem from the Green Blog Network here.

It has made me very happy to have taken so many landscape photographs; I love and cherish the earth, too. The photo above was taken in October in North Dakota from Highway 94 on the way to Bismarck from Fargo.The poem is a beautifully extended and embellished metaphor and includes everything from the best laundry techniques to artist's work and materials. Also, archangels and seraphim! This is powerful stuff! Look about you at what is growing now. Today on the Daily Walk, we saw plum blossom buds and blooming narcissus. Of course, the weather is one reason too many people live in Silicon Valley, , ,

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