The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
(John Keats, 1817)

A long time ago, the English poet William Wordsworth  wrote, in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” a most able synopsis of the ideal relationship between mankind and the balance of earthly life:

 To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
 The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my hearth, and soul
Of all my moral being.

One has to wonder, sometimes, what has happened in this, our ‘modern’ era, to Wordsworth’s “joy Of elevated thoughts”? A glance around at each day’s news headlinesat politics both at home and globally, at scientific data and the discussions based thereupon — offers little reassurance that “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being” still has any root at all “In nature” much less in “the language of the sense.” Today about all that seems to count, at least for our species, is acquisition of money and power.

I’m not at all certain as to just how many different and distinct species inhabit this little backwater planet we call earth, but I’m guessing ‘tens of millions’ would at least reach ballpark status. And in a sensibly run situation, each and all species would most likely remain viable for a good long time, susceptible far more to global changes brought about by astronomical events than to any sort of localized ‘eat or be eaten’ thesis. In fact, one of the more significant mass extinctions happened some 65 million years ago when a sizable asteroid smashed into the earth, tossed all sorts of dust, smoke, and other debris into the atmosphere, modified the climate, and slammed the door on the dinosaurs, among numerous other life forms, in result. Extinction by natural phenomena is nothing new.

Then came humans. Homo sapiens, as we’ve named ourselves. Not sure just when it was that we popped up. Six thousand years ago, if you believe the believers; maybe a million years ago, give or take a hundred thousand or two, if you believe science. Not that it really matters all that much, given that it’s looking pretty certain that we as a species are well past the halfway mark of our existence, given how diligently we work with all our clever tools to modify the global climate sufficiently to force another mass extinction. Lucky for us there’s all that fossilized carbon left beneath the surface by all the life forms that disappeared in the last mass extinction; it appears, in fact, to be more than enough to ‘fuel’ (sotospeak) the next one.

Oh well, what the hey, I’m too old to worry about it all that much; my fate will likely already be a historical footnote by the time the mass die-off commences. Still, there are the young folks, and, well you know, the millions of other species, many of which will be at risk simply because of the idiocy implicit in our one species.

What went wrong?

I checked with poet Walt Whitman; he offered this little bit of wisdom back in 1855 as part of the preface to his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. He speaks my mind, and he somehow managed to do it some 87 years before I even showed up!


I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained

I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
 not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men – go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families – re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sounds like some of the best advice anyone could ever offer to not only you and me, but also to the entire of our species (even including such sapiens marginals as, say, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al. et al. . . . the list is endless). And seriously, just how is it that life-on-earth’s most “intelligent” species is the species engaged in a process previously left solely to galactic processes? What went wrong?

I tried to answer that question a decade or so ago. I used a total of 140 syllables in my so called Paradox of Humakind: Superior Inferiority effort and while I’m not at all sure I overturned every stone in the process, what the heck, right?

Brash vanity ordains that Mankind be
Superior to all other life on Earth,
And curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth.
Thus bold is he who advocates the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the Core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
A single moment’s intellect reveals
One Truth, as if inscribed in tempered stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

So today, thanks to human consumption of fossil fuels and with climate change well underway courtesy of atmospheric CO2 levels approaching historic levels — with the Arctic ice cap rapidly melting and thereby allowing the release of the even more climate-altering (permafrost-embedded) methane, and with efforts on the part of science and thinking people to do whatever is necessary to halt and reverse the process dismissed as some sort of collaborative tom-foolery by industrial and political power centers — we have managed to contrive a potential mass extinction episode with the potential equivalence of the asteroid collision some 65 million years ago.  Bring on the Keystone XL Pipeline! More War! Invade Syria! Nuke Iran! Yeah! Benghazi Benghazi!!

So. Where is the sapiens these days, the intellect, the intelligence? What of “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being”? Wordsworth drew that concept as he apparently pondered the messages he gained from his juxtaposition between the natural world and the world of Tintern Abbey in Wales, an ancient church founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks who adhered to the Benedictine philosophy that insisted upon a moderate path between individual and institutionalized theses. Tintern Abbey stands in ruins today, as it has for several centuries. One cannot help but wonder if the words “in ruins” are not also applicable these days to most ‘Western’ religious practice, given that today’s major and most murderous conflicts are, after all, between the three major “God” -based belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And so the question persists: wherein and in whose hands lies the fate of the human species, indeed of the planet itself?

Brings to mind yet one more piece of compelling poetry, this one written by Philip Appleman sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s titled Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule, and its message carries an all too familiar ring of truth.

I have to tell you this, whoever you are
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn’t be lost forever –
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

Are we genuinely the ‘masters’ of our own fate? Of the fate of the planet’s biosphere? Based on current information, we may well prove to NOT be that much better an option than another collision with a giant asteroid! Here’s a better idea: re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . .Thanks Walt. If we can get THAT done it will be further evidence that Keats might have been correct after all when he wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.”


101 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

  1. I got to nature to be soothed and healed,
    and to have my senses put in order.
    John Burroughs

    Nature teaches more than
    she preaches. There are no sermons
    in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone
    than a moral.
    John Burroughs

    If we take science as our sole guide, if we accept and
    hold fast that alone which is verifiable, the old theology
    must go.
    John Burroughs

    • If we take science as our sole guide . . . the old theology
      must go.

      That’s about the most able summation of my ‘passage’ I’ve run across to date! A quick google came up with this one, also by Burroughs:

      “One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.” — proof positive that he and today’s R-Wingnuts arrived here from different galaxies!

  2. Marmite, Irn-Bru and Bovril banned in Canada after they fall foul of food additive rules

    In Canada it is perfectly legal to acquire a firearm and bullets. But Marmite and Irn-Bru are apparently a threat to the nation’s health after the Canadian food watchdog banned some of Britain’s most popular exports from supermarket shelves.


    Marmite, Irn-Bru, Penguin bars, Lucozade, Bovril and Ovaltine have all fallen foul of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which objected to food-colourings, vitamins and minerals contained in products from the United Kingdom.

    I don’t know what the other stuff is, but I’ve had an Irn-Bru. My ex drinks those on the mornings when she needs to get going in a hurry. It’s an alternative to a Red Bull.

  3. The earth will continue in its poetic majesty unless we allow the teabagging morons to allow their corporate puppetmasters to finish taking control of the political systems.
    Earth first, people second, animals next, corporations somewhere at the bottom of the stack. Like a turtle named Mack.

  4. the evolution of homo sapiens is but a zeptosecond of a Planck time unit in the grand expansion and contraction of the cosmos…..from the bang to the bust. enjoy and protect, this little spark of static electricity called life on earth.

  5. Fuck all the RWNJs claiming Obamacare isn’t secure.

    Neiman Marcus Data Breach Worse Than First Said

    The theft of consumer data from Neiman Marcus appears far deeper than had been disclosed originally, with the luxury retailer now saying that hackers invaded its systems for several months in a breach that involved 1.1 million credit and debit cards.

    The malware installed on terminals in Neiman Marcus stores seems to be the same malware that infiltrated Target’s systems and exposed information from as many as 110 million customers, according to a person briefed on the investigations who spoke on the condition of anonymity and is not authorized to speak publicly about the attacks.

    I received my Alabama Unemployment statement for my taxes over a week ago. That’s Alabama. Still waiting for all three W2s from those more efficient private sector companies.

      • Government doesn’t require a profit, and yet it is more responsive.
        Corporate administration doesn’t generate profit. They’re a drain on profit.
        Most companies outsource accounting since it’s a seasonal service anyway.

  6. Why George Lucas, Eric Schmidt, (and yes, Steve Jobs) Should Go to Jail: Conspiring to Reduce Wages of 100,000 Tech Pros

    It’s surprising to see the Obama Administration, which has not even done a good job of faking interest in pursuing criminal charges against major financial firms or their top executives for nearly destroying the global economy, make a frontal assault on some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names. But the conduct in question, namely price fixing, is slam-dunk criminal if the charges prove out. For instance, an early 1990s price rigging investigation involving lysine and citric acid at ADM led to $100 million in fines and jail time for top executives, including the vice chairman, who was also the heir apparent, and criminal fines from other corporate co-conspirators. That success also led to other successful price fixing prosecutions, yielding billions in fines. This victory led to other successful cartel-busting prosecutions.

    Yes, Steve Jobs is dead. His policies may live on, but we’re in the process of doing something about that as well.

    • Sounds like the Circuit City business model. Fire all the experience, and hire younger, cheaper people, then wonder why nothing gets done right.
      Zucker isn’t going to take viewers away from Fox, won’t try to compete with MSNBC for left-leaning viewers, and will only get ratings when there’s a disaster. Nancy Grace only gets ratings when there’s a major trial. I wonder if her ratings will go up when Chris Christie or the McDonnells go on trial?

      • Nancy Grace will only get involved when some young mother is accused of killing her kid or some other human tragedy she can exploit for airtime. She loves to degrade other human beings who can’t fight back. She is the Ann Coulter of crime reporting.

  7. Former Chief of Staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander, Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

    Former Senate staffer Jesse Ryan Loskarn was found dead Thursday in Sykesville, Md., in an apparent suicide, according to the local sheriff’s office.

    Loskarn, the former chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was residing with his parents after being released into their custody following an arrest on child pornography charges. The deadline to bring an indictment against Loskarn, originally scheduled for this month, was delayed until Feb. 10.

  8. As if bitcoins weren’t a complete enigma to me, yesterday Badmoodwife mentioned something called an “online charter school” and this morning on NPR they used the term, “email suicide bomber.”


  9. QOTD:

    “Just another retaliation by this administration. And some folks think its a good idea that he gets the nuclear codes,” – Chris Bollwage, mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, who claims governor Chris Christie shut down his town’s DMV office in another act of political retribution.

    • Does breast augmentation surgery count as wages? I’m not being disparaging, and I think everyone is entitled to an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work, but I can’t recall the last time I saw a NFL cheerleader who was still using her “original equipment” instead of great big saline sacks that hang from her ribs and I’m pretty sure that said saline sacks don’t come cheap.

        • I don’t know if they can be written off but, considering what they are paid now, I’m just curious how they financed the “accessories” in the first place. I suspect that the truth of the matter would probably make me sad so I should probably just drop the subject.

  10. A partial list of things Alex Jones is afraid of:
    1. Clouds.
    WTF. Once one admits to being afraid of clouds everything else is just piling on.

    A partial list of things Alex Jones is afraid of:1. Clouds.WTF. Once one admits to being afraid of clouds everything else is just piling on.

  11. On the interwebs:

    One graduated from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA and showed poor sportsmanship after biggest win of his career. The other street-raced a sports car while drunk and with an expired license. Guess which one the pundits labeled “misguided” and which one they called a “dangerous thug”?

          • Moving always sucks, Zooey, but the stuff always does get moved. Eventually.

            Two of my favorite neighbors are moving and I volunteered to help. We carried out the first three loads when it was -5F and, after a day of rest, it looks like the next loads will be carried out when it’s +5F with a 25mph wind. I think that works out to a wind chill of around -20F! Did I mention that the elevator is busted?

            Since I’m about 1,000 miles away I’m afraid that all I can offer is; chin up and look forward to the new digs. If all else fails? Try some wine and deep-breathing techniques!

          • BTW. As I have moved around during the last 10 years I have systematically reduced the volume of my stuff. Now I’m down to a big aquarium, my model airplanes, and several boxes of treasured books.

  12. Texas judge finally orders hospital to remove brain-dead, pregnant woman from life support. Gestating inside a corpse isn’t the ideal for good development and this fetus wasn’t viable anyway.

  13. McDonnell Rejected Plea Offer To Face One Felony, Spare Wife Any Charges, Avoid Trial

    Maureen McDonnell relayed to federal prosecutors last summer that she felt responsible for the relationship with a wealthy businessman who had drawn legal scrutiny to Virginia’s first family, and her attorney asked whether the case could be resolved without charges for her husband.

    But prosecutors showed no interest, according to people familiar with the conversation. Instead, months later, authorities proposed that then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell plead guilty to one felony fraud charge that had nothing to do with corruption in office and his wife would avoid charges altogether. The governor rejected the offer, the people with knowledge of the conversations said.

    If both are convicted and do time, he’ll wish he had fallen on his sword and gotten it over with.

  14. Damn, I do detest the Repugnants governing women…
    this family should not have been put through all of this.
    The legislatures aren’t medically trained and should NEVER have gone against this woman and her family’s wishes..

    Brain-dead pregnant woman ordered off life support by Texas judge

    A Texas judge on Friday ordered a Fort Worth hospital to remove a brain-dead pregnant woman from life support, after her husband argued the fetus she has been forced to carry under state law is withering in her debilitated body.

  15. Heh. Sharpton has a graphic of Huckabee and Reince Preibus, with ‘Livin’ “Libido” Loca’ as the caption. 😉

  16. Just saw this on Al Sharpton:

    Port Authority Won’t Pay Legal Bills For David Wildstein

    The Port Authority will not pick up the legal bills of a former executive at the center of an investigation into the George Washington Bridge access lane closures.

    On Friday morning the agency notified David Wildstein, the agency executive who ordered the September lane closures, that it had turned down his request for indemnification, a Port Authority source familiar with the decision said. The notification said Wildstein’s request “would not be warranted” under the agency’s bylaws, the source said.

    He’s going to make a plea deal pretty soon. He has to. Unless a Koch Brother or somebody else with a deep pocket comes to his rescue, he’ll do serious time unless he rolls over on the rest of them. This is gonna be good! 😀

  17. “This week in his inaugural address, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke of wanting to bring the people of New Jersey together. He wanted to bring them together by having them all try to merge into one lane.”
    —Jay Leno

  18. [practicing patience]

    (windows) ——//——//——//—— (2pm)

    –––––––––––––––X(I am here)–––––––––

    (windows) ——//——//——//—— (3p)

    ––––––––––X(I am here)–––––––––

    ——//——//——//—— (3.30p)
    X – hand my id – [oh, those Rxs are on their way via USPS]

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