Wednesday, October 24, 2012

AW #51: Geopoetry

This month's Accretionary Wedge theme is Geopoetry, hosted by Matt Herod at Geosphere. Now I'm generally not much of a poetry person- it's too dense for me, and I prefer the literalism of prose. But I found this one during a search and after reading a few others, and I really, really like it. It captures the feeling of wonder and awe I feel toward geology and the earth. (Also, when I went to leave a comment on the call for posts, I read the poem submitted in the first comment. You should too. It's amazing!)

Oh Lovely Rock
By Robinson Jeffers

We stayed the night in the pathless gorge of Ventana Creek, up the east fork.
The rock walls and the mountain ridges hung forest on forest above our heads, maple and redwood,
Laurel, oak, madrone, up to the high and slender Santa Lucian firs that stare up the cataracts
Of slide-rock to the star-color precipices.

We lay on gravel and kept a little camp-fire for warmth.
Past midnight only two or three coals glowed red in the cooling darkness; I laid a clutch of dead bay-leaves
On the ember ends and felted dry sticks across them and lay down again. The revived flame
Lighted my sleeping son’s face and his companion’s, and the vertical face of the great gorge-wall
Across the stream. Light leaves overhead danced in the fire’s breath, tree-trunks were seen: it was the rock wall
That fascinated my eyes and mind. Nothing strange: light-gray diorite with two or three slanting seams in it,
Smooth-polished by the endless attrition of slides and floods; no fern nor lichen, pure naked if I were
Seeing rock for the first time. As if I were seeing through the flame-lit surface into the real and bodily
And living rock. Nothing strange...I cannot
Tell you how strange: the silent passion, the deep nobility and childlike loveliness: this fate going on
Outside our fates. It is here in the mountain like a grave smiling child. I shall die, and my boys
Will live and die, our world will go on through its rapid agonies of change and discovery; this age will die,
And wolves have howled in the snow around a new Bethlehem: this rock will be here, grave, earnest, not passive: the energies
That are its atoms will still be bearing the whole mountain above: and I, many packed centuries ago,
Felt its intense reality with love and wonder, this lonely rock.


Anonymous said...

That poem needs to be read out at night, around a campfire, in a space ringed by large rocks. It is wonderfully evocative, and I love it!

Hollis said...

Thanks for posting this. The imagery of a little fire illuminating things, provoking thoughts, is wonderful. Jeffers had such a way.