I always thought that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “The Earth Laughs in Flowers,” had a warm sentiment. In light of Earth Day, I decided to look up the original piece from which this quote came. After reading and marinating on the poem, called Hamatreya, I soon found that Emerson wasn’t being all hunky dory and happy with this work. In fact, the poem’s tone is quite grave in nature. In it, Emerson mocks man who, in his greed, claims the earth as his own. But where are these men now? They’ve returned back to the soil, and yet the earth remains – having no owner, no master. How can man possess the earth? It was here long before us, and it will stay much longer after we’re gone. So, that being mentioned, we should take better care of this planet we inhabit. We too shall return to the earth, yet she marches on.
Inspired by Emerson, I went out earlier today and took some instant photos with the Mamiya RZ67 and Polaroid back. I shot on Fuji FP-100c pack film, the peel apart kind that gives you both a positive print and a negative which can be salvaged, scanned, and inverted with editing software. I haven’t gotten into that too much because it requires me to use photoshop, something I truly dread. In my opinion, most of us already spend enough time staring at computer screens or smart phones. Anyhow, I’ll leave that for another rant. For now, please enjoy these 9 instant photos, and don’t forget to love the earth and all her provisions! I’ll leave you all with Emerson’s Hamatreya poem after the break.
Enjoy! © Patrick Bresnahan
Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint,
Possessed the land which rendered to their toil
Hay, corn, roots, hemp, flax, apples, wool, and wood.
Each of these landlords walked amidst his farm,
Saying, “’Tis mine, my children’s and my name’s.
How sweet the west wind sounds in my own trees!
How graceful climb those shadows on my hill!
I fancy these pure waters and the flags
Know me, as does my dog: we sympathize;
And, I affirm, my actions smack of the soil.”
Where are these men? Asleep beneath their grounds:
And strangers, fond as they, their furrows plough.
Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet
Clear of the grave.
They added ridge to valley, brook to pond,
And sighed for all that bounded their domain;
“This suits me for a pasture; that’s my park;
We must have clay, lime, gravel, granite-ledge,
And misty lowland, where to go for peat.
The land is well,—lies fairly to the south.
’Tis good, when you have crossed the sea and back,
To find the sitfast acres where you left them.”
Ah! the hot owner sees not Death, who adds
Him to his land, a lump of mould the more.
Hear what the Earth say:—
“Mine and yours;
Mine, not yours.
Shine down in the old sea;
Old are the shores;
But where are old men?
I who have seen much,
Such have I never seen.
“The lawyer’s deed
To them and to their heirs
Who shall succeed,
“Here is the land,
Shaggy with wood,
With its old valley,
Mound and flood.
But the heritors?—
Fled like the flood’s foam.
The lawyer and the laws,
And the kingdom,
Clean swept herefrom.
“They called me theirs,
Who so controlled me;
Yet every one
Wished to stay, and is gone,
How am I theirs,
If they cannot hold me,
But I hold them?”
When I heard the Earth-song
I was no longer brave;
My avarice cooled
Like lust in the chill of the grave.