The following poems will be read aloud by distinguished poets, along with other pieces and performances, tomorrow evening at Our Common Home, a celebration of Pope Francis' call to action on climate change.
Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman
A child said, What is the grass? Fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?......I do not know what it is any
more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see
And remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child......the produced babe
of the vegetation.
My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on my distant and
They rise together, they slowly circle around.
...I believe in those wing’d purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown, intentional;
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something
And the mocking bird in the swamp never studied the gamut, yet
trills pretty well to me;
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.
The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya-honk! He says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation;
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen closer,
I find its purpose and place up there toward the November sky.
The sharp-hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the
chickadee, the prairie-dog,
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half-spread wings;
I see in them and myself the same old law.
The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections.
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not
original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing, or next to nothing,
If they are not the riddle, and the untying of the riddle they are
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.
This is the grass that grows wherever the land is, and the water is,
This is the common air that bathes the globe.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow & river & 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 touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and 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.