2022 started off with a marvelous opportunity to read poetry at the Coimbatore Festival of the Arts. The theme was to choose a poem that immortalizes a place you love just as T S Elliot immortalized London in his writings. I wracked my brain, and tried to find one place – but found myself dithering. I had a book of 150 poems open on my lap as we made our way to one of my favorite places on Earth – a peek under the ocean waters (Monterey Bay Aquarium). But there was no poem on the oceans in the book.
“How about this one? “, I asked and read out one sparkling piece after another.
The trick with poetry reading is to get the whole family shut inside a car, snag the front seat so the car’s audio controls are with you, and then to start reading poetry out aloud. It is a good strategy as long as one knows to gauge moods and cheese it at the right time. I had a thoughtful audience, an audience that gave me suggestions, and even recited some of their favorite ones for consideration. What more could one ask for?
The more I thought about it, the less I was able to zone in one place. Many places seem to hold something special – places we’d lived in, places we’d made memories in, and places we’d visited and fallen in love with.
The more I tried to narrow down, the more I found myself drawn to the planet Earth. After all, I love almost every river I see, wish upon every stream and fountain – man-made or natural, love every tree, admire every flower as is wafts its scents through my senses, and adore the play of the evening light amidst the clouds. How could one place be selected? I did wonder about Mary Oliver’s poem on the unknown pond. The one in which she just refers to a nameless pond, since it could work for any pond, and I agreed with the sentiment. How many ponds have I since pondered over with that beautiful poem in mind. In fact, I have my own version of Walden’s pond, which is nothing close to Walden’s Pond that so inspired Thoreau in size or stature. But it is reachable from my home, and every time I glance upon its water, a new delight unfolds. Whether it is the pelicans, geese or ducks swimming there, or the play of the reeds movements upon its surface, every glimpse offers something lovely for the soul.
So finally, I settled on Planet Earth as my favorite. We Belong on Earth, is after all, a popular theme on the blog. Therefore, the poem chosen was A Grain of Sand – By Robert W Service
A GRAIN OF SAND
If starry space no limit knows
And sun succeeds to sun,
There is no reason to suppose
Our earth the only one.by Robert W. Service
Followed by Carl Sagan’s ode to the Pale Blue Dot (written almost 45 years after A Grain of Sand – this ode is one for the ages) and then finally with by my own humble ode to our beautiful Earth.
As we walk upon this Earth, there is much to be grateful for, and much work to be done to fix our footprints on the sand.