Two Poems, For Earth Day 2016


April 22nd is the day set apart and celebrated every year for World Earth Day. It has been celebrated since 1970. It is a day for us to think about the condition of the earth tthat provides us with the resources we need to have a good life, and to be conscious of ways by which we as humans are harming or helping Mother Earth. Therefore the post today is celebrating our Earth with the poetry of one of the most recognised pastoral poets in Nigeria and Africa, Professor Niyi Osundare. The two poems drawn from his award winning collection, The Eye of the Earth, reminds us of our responsibility to the earth that so richly supports human life and warns us to recognize that the need to make sure we leave the legacy of a earth well taken care of for future generations.


They too are the earth
The swamsongs of beggars sprawled out
The brimming gutters
They are the earth
Under snakeskin shoes and Mercedes tyres

They too are the earth
The sweat and grime of
Millions hewing wood and hurling water
They are the earth
Muddy every pore like naked moles

They too are the earth
The distant groans of thousands buried alive
In hard unfathomable mines
They are the earth
Of gold dreams and blood banks

They too are the earth
The dying distant deaths
In narrow abandoned hamlets
They are the earth
Women battling centuries
Maleficent slavery

Are they of this earth
Who fritter the forest and harry the hills
Are they of this earth
Who live that earth may die
Are they?



The earth is ours to plough and plant
the hoe is her barber
the dibble her dimple

out with mattocks and matchets
bring calabash trays and rocking baskets
let the sweat which swells earthroot
relieve heavy heaps of their tuberous burdens

Let Wheatfields raise their breadsome hands
To the ripening sun
Let legumes clothe the naked bosom
Of shivering mounds
Let the papaw swell and swing
Its headward breasts
Let water spring
From earth’s unfathomed fountain
Let gold rush
From her deep unseable mines
Hitch up a ladder to the dodging sky
Let’s put a sun in every night
Our earth is an unopened grainhouse
A bustling barn in some far, uncharted jungle
A distant gem in a rough unhappy dust

The earth is
Ours to work not to waste
Ours to man not to maim
This earth is ours to plough, not to plunder


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