Friday, October 3, 2008

The Worst Poem About the Awe of Nature

It isn't enough for me
to simply gaze in awe.
I must ask, "how is it done?"
I wonder, "how is it made?"
I think, "why is it built that way,
    and not some other way?"

I glimpse a shooting star
streak, fleetingly across a black sky
and wonder, "how far did it travel
    before being turned to dust?"
and think, "what was its impact velocity,
    and what was its temperature,
    and how much ash was produced
    in that burning ball of fire?"

I see a towering oak tree
with countless leaves and peeling bark and random fingers of branches
and imagine the tons of earth that have been displaced
    by the vast heirarchical network of roots
    that spread unseen below me.
    and ponder the volume of minerals and water it takes
    to turn an acorn into a such a thing.

I watch a tiny black ant
crawl across the surface of my hand
and wonder, "where is it trying to go?
    Does it know it's been lifted
    out of its course? Is it conscious of itself
    and does it fear for its life?
    Or does it run on biomechanical instinct,
    like a miniature robot, with no thoughts of its own,
    except for it's living code, programmed by nature?

And then... I gaze in awe.

1 comment:

Wes Larson said...

Here's the backstory to this. I read this Walt Whitman poem and got annoyed:

"When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer"
By Walt Whitman
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

It bothered me that Walt Whitman seems to have decidedly ignored the real beauty of the stars and nature. He completely dismisses the astronomer's attempt to understand the perfect movement of the stars and planets and the universe. He'd rather look at the pretty lights in the sky and leave it at that. So I wrote my poem as a counter to his.