Words of WonderEarth, I thank you - Anne Spencer

Earth, I thank you
for the pleasure of your language
You’ve had a hard time
bringing it to me
from the ground
to grunt thru the noun
To all the way
feeling seeing smelling touching
I am here!

by Anne Spencer


I was touched by this little poem, with its gratitude and emerging sense of presence which feels joyful or even triumphant to me. And curious, what was in Anne Spencer’s mind when she wrote it? This question doesn’t always come up for me when reading a poem, but I certainly wondered reading this one.

To me (and that is after a bright windy day of wandering on the moor with Finbar’s six year-old delighted pausing at every other flower, little stream, poll of grasses or heather), the earth’s language is all that grows and was born from the earth. The poem acknowledges that it was hard to bring it to me – it took immeasurable time to evolve from single celled organisms to the rich biodiversity we know now. And even with it all here, I might not actually receive it when I’m caught up in the virtual world of my thinking… but we have the possibility of ‘feeling seeing smelling touching’ it, bringing us into being mode awareness and realising we’re here, we’re present and alive.

I do realise that this is a very mindfulness-inspired reading of this poem written long ago in a country far away with a culture different from mine. So I was really interested in reading a bit about Anne Spencer’s life (long live Wikipedia) as one of the first celebrated African American female poets, about her love for gardening and her civil rights activism for equality and educational opportunities. And I also came across what looks like a poetry club discussing it, with different people giving their own interesting interpretation and understanding of it.

Yet all this is our human language, overlaying the simple reality of life being right here to see and smell and touch, inviting presence and gratitude in this moment. Earth, I thank you – I am here!


Photo by Rowan Heuvel on Unsplash