09 August 2018

Poetry Thursday - Planet Earth by P.K. Page

Goffering (via)
Planet Earth by P.K. Page
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet, 
has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness; 
and the hands keep on moving, 
smoothing the holy surfaces.
—– In Praise of Ironing by Pablo Neruda
It has to be loved the way a laundress loves her linens,
the way she moves her hands caressing the fine muslins
knowing their warp and woof,
like a lover coaxing, or a mother praising.
It has to be loved as if it were embroidered
with flowers and birds and two joined hearts upon it.
It has to be stretched and stroked.
It has to be celebrated.
O this great beloved world and all the creatures in it.
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet.
The trees must be washed, and the grasses and mosses.
They have to be polished as if made of green brass.
The rivers and little streams with their hidden cresses
and pale-coloured pebbles
and their fool’s gold
must be washed and starched or shined into brightness,
the sheets of lake water
smoothed with the hand
and the foam of the oceans pressed into neatness.
It has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness.
and pleated and goffered, the flower-blue sea
the protean, wine-dark, grey, green, sea
with its metres of satin and bolts of brocade.
And sky – such an 0! overhead – night and day
must be burnished and rubbed
by hands that are loving
so the blue blazons forth
and the stars keep on shining
within and above
and the hands keep on moving.
It has to be made bright, the skin of this planet
till it shines in the sun like gold leaf.
Archangels then will attend to its metals
and polish the rods of its rain.
Seraphim will stop singing hosannas
to shower it with blessings and blisses and praises
and, newly in love,
we must draw it and paint it
our pencils and brushes and loving caresses
smoothing the holy surfaces.
(via, where you can read more about the poem)

P.K. Page, a Canadian poet, came to my notice via Judith Martin on Instagram, in conjunction with a photo of her own textile work. To quote from this article 
P.K. Page was a widely revered poet who lived the latter part of her life in Victoria, B.C. She died on January 14 [2010] at the great age of 93. In her long life, she wrote not only poetry but also fiction, non-fiction, and children's literature; she was recognized as a significant figure on the literary scene in Canada for well over half a century. She was also an accomplished painter, who under her married name of P.K. Irwin has pieces in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. And one of the forms of poetry for which she is best-known is the glosa. This is an early Renaissance form of tribute developed by the poets of the Spanish court: each line of the opening quatrain, which is by another poet, becomes the final line of the four following stanzas which "gloss" (or comment on) that opening quatrain, usually with the sixth, ninth, and borrowed tenth line rhyming. Page became intrigued by the challenge of this form, and in 1994 she produced a whole book of glosas entitled Hologram.

She published more than 30 books. By special resolution of the United Nations, in 2001 "Planet Earth" was read simultaneously in New York, the Antarctic, and the South Pacific to celebrate the International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.

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