Sheenagh Pugh is a poet and novelist originally from Wales, now living in Shetland. I found her in the BBC book, The Nation’s Favourite Poems of Journeys where you can find the poem below – I was in Derbyshire at the time, but you could be anywhere you like when you read it. It has been referred to as a damning of mankind, of what we are doing to the place where we live, but I took it as a salient lesson for poets (and everyone else for that matter) to take note of what we see each day. The minutiae of life as it passes us and we pass it by.
I’ve gone on to read more of her works, you can find some by clicking on her name, I highly advise indulgence.
Do You Think We’ll Ever Get To See Earth, Sir?
I hear they’re hoping to run trips
one day, for the young and fit, of course.
I don’t see much use in it myself;
there’ll be any number of places
you can’t land, because they’re still toxic,
and even in the relatively safe bits
you won’t see what it was; what it could be.
I can’t fancy a tour through the ruins
of my home with a party of twenty-five
and a guide to tell me what to see.
But if you should see some beautiful thing,
some leaf, say, damascened with frost,
some iridescence on a pigeon’s neck,
some stone, some curve, some clear water;
look at it as if you were made of eyes,
as if you were nothing but an eye, lidless
and tender, to be probed and scorched
by extreme light. Look at it with your skin,
with the small hairs on the back of your neck.
If it is well-shaped, look at it with your hands;
if it has fragrance, breathe it into yourself;
if it tastes sweet, put your tongue to it.
Look at it as a happening, a moment;
let nothing of it go unrecorded,
map it as if it were already passing.
Look at it with the inside of your head,
look at it for later, look at it for ever,
and look at it once for me.