The power of poetry to move us to action

Maddy Harland
Monday, 31st October 2011

I have always loved poetry but there are a few eco-poets who really touch my heart. Drew Dellinger is one of them so I share one of his particularly insightful poems in these times of 'Occupy The Streets'.

What Did You Do?

It’s 3:23 in the morning

And I’m awake because my great, great grandchildren won’t let me sleep. ...

My great, great grandchildren ask me in dreams what did you do when the planet was plundered?

What did you do when the earth was unravelling?

Surely you did something when the seasons started failing as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

Did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?

What did you do once you knew?...

Drew Dellinger



For more information on Drew Dellinger please see 

If you have a favourite poem please post a comment with a link or even the whole poem below. Share your inspiration. Share your passion. Share your vision.

Jim Thomas |
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 20:25
When one morning men see the sun rise blood red through the foul haze of their own folly, they will weep not bitter tears, but pitifully, like a woman losing her child at birth. Then they will ask... What have we done to deserve this? And... What shall we do now? jim...1973
Maddy Harland |
Tue, 01/11/2011 - 22:21
Thank you Jim for sharing your poem, so prescient for 1973.
Natalya Polyakova |
Wed, 02/11/2011 - 08:20
To scoop a sea up in your hand - Won’t make it drier. For our souls, there’s only one Heavenly fire. One only breath, from lips to lips, For all the people One only fate, one only mile For all creation One myrrh anoints us, everyone One single motion And our days will flow away A single river In every grain, both flour and bread Contain their essence And opens wide a path for us From earth to heaven. Как море зачерпнуть в ладонь – Не станет суше. Один божественный огонь На наши души. Одно на всех, из уст в уста Одно дыханье Одна судьба, одна верста На мирозданье Мы мирром мазаны одним Одной рукою И утекают наши дни Одной рекою В любом зерне таится суть Муки и хлеба Тебе и мне торится путь С земли до неба
Jonathan Eyre |
Wed, 02/11/2011 - 10:28
View over an East Lancashire valley Sheds on the by-pass Tombstones of politicians’ promises And road builders’ wet false dreams Of inward investment; that never came. Spurning the high streets That were full of shops. Sheds on the by-pass Gutting the businesses that once had got by And leaving the old town centre to crumble, The foot fall to die away And the closed-down and shops-to-let signs Sprout like spring bulbs, Only they will never now turn into flowers. Sheds on the by-pass; The mono-crop now failing Cheap warehousing, light business premises Thrown up in a rush for rental value Close to the by-pass and the motorways. The sheds on the By-pass, Sold as the key to green-shoots signs of recovery Are half empty, and themselves wilting with guilt From destroying the ecology of the green-fields, wet-lands and scrub-land they were built on, And marked by the seal of a motorway lead recovery That would never ever come, Except to the road builders and landowners. The sheds on the By-pass, Planted by the thoughtless chase for land price profit Now sit there morbidly, empty eyed Cast under the same spell Of the dying town centre And terrace empty housing clearance The Sheds on the by-pass Cast their economic false shadows Across the squandered flat lands of the valleys And the broken landscape of the hearts of the people. Jonathan Eyre -
Maddy Harland |
Thu, 03/11/2011 - 12:32
Dear Natalya and Jonathan, thank you both for your different but equally moving poetry. What an honour it is to share this material on this blog.
Tracy Chandler |
Sat, 05/11/2011 - 11:50
Why Less ? Waste less Make less Consume less Use less Drink less Eat less Smoke less Buy less Fry less Dry less Wash less Dress less Breed less Need less Take less Drive less Work less Why less Water less Power less Tress less Free less World mess Worthless Greedy Humanness Tracy Chandler 18/03/06
Sheryl |
Sat, 05/11/2011 - 19:49
When the time’s toxins have seeped into every cell and like a salted plot from which all rain, all green, are gone I and life are leached of meaning somehow a seed of belief sprouts the instant I acknowledge it: little weedy hardy would-be greenness tugged upward by light while deep within roots like talons are taking hold again of this our only earth. - CHRISTIAN WIMAN
Maddy Harland |
Sat, 05/11/2011 - 23:28
Thank you so much Christian. Now that is a wonderful poem. I shall hold that next to my heart and be renewed.
Patsy Robinson |
Wed, 30/11/2011 - 16:55
A FATAL MISTAKE by Edna Eglinton The turtle was killed by a careless hand three thousand miles away, a hand that had crumpled a plastic bag tossed it aside and left it to lie in the grass on a cliff by the sea. It blew on the wind out over the bay and fell in the tidal stream where the strength of the current carried it on rolling and rocking through froth and foam to the warmth of a faraway sea. Sunshine expanded the air in the bag till it floated on top of the swell, like one of the crowd of jellyfish there sparkling with colours of sunshine and air afloat on the rollicking sea. A hungry turtle swimming by snapped it up in his jellyfish meal. It stuck in his throat and choked him — dead in the middle of that sea. Three thousand miles from that careless hand a female turtle waits. She has no fertile eggs this year, no small new turtles will appear in the sand by that lonely sea.
Peter Adeline |
Thu, 01/12/2011 - 09:24
Hi Maddy, nice thread building here. As he is in the news again today, the following might be of interest: BOTTOM GEAR The big difference, between Jeremy and I, Is that he really hopes he’s right Whereas I really hope I’m wrong. So when the last drip of oil has dropped And the toys start to rust And the boys stand bemused, lads at a loss, We’ll compare notes, me and Jeremy, And see if anything we could have done differently Would have made a difference. Hmmm.
Transition Crouch End |
Sun, 04/12/2011 - 17:58
I love this poem by Matt Harvey - a serious message told with a light touch. Less is More Can less be more, can more be less? Well, yes and no, and no and yes Well, more or less… More bikes, fewer cars Less haze, more stars Less haste, more time Less reason, more rhyme More time, less stress Fewer miles, more fresh (vegetables) Fewer car parks, more acres of available urban soil More farmers’ markets, less produce effectively marinated in crude oil Less colouring, more taste More mashing, less waste Fewer couch potatoes, more spring greens Fewer tired tomatoes, more runner beans More stillness, less inertia Less illness, more Echinacea More community, less isolation Less just sitting there, more participation! More wells (not oil ones, obviously), fewer ills Fewer clean fingernails, more skills More co-operation, less compliancy Less complacency, more self-reliancy Less competition, more collaboration Less passive listening, more participation! Less attention defic…, more concentration Less passive listening, more participation! (Less repetition) Less of a warm globe, more a chilly’un More of a wise world, at least 34 fewer parts of C02 per million Less stress-related cardio-vascular and pulmonary failure More nurturing quality time in the company of a favourite clematis or dahlia More craftsmanship, less built-in obsolescence More political maturity, less apparently-consequence-free extended adolescence More believed-to-be-beautiful, known-to-be-useful things Less cheap, pointless, petroleum-steeped stuff So Yes, less is more – and enough’s enough…
Maddy Harland |
Tue, 27/12/2011 - 18:58
Matt Harvey has the rare skill of combining wit with ecological insight. I saw him read his poems at the launching of the Transition Handbook. He was great!
adelaroger |
Tue, 20/08/2013 - 07:43
Yes poetry have great power and what can I say apart from....this is a great resource, definitely going straight into the bookmarks folder!