Geology became a science when
The earth no longer was revered by men—
When at a late stage of the Anthropocene
(The word itself sounds sinister, obscene),
She who had once been the eternal ground
Of mortals and the immortal gods was drowned
In the icy water of egotistical
Calculation. Now the machine was all.
It churned out numbers, chaining us to fact,
And rendered life increasingly abstract,
Till in the end humanity was seen
To worship at the font of the machine.
You must go back, must find the long way back.
You’ve fallen off the trail and lost the track.
You can’t go back. You must take a new tack.
You’ve fallen off the rails and lost the track.
Although nostalgia is the enemy
Of any form of future harmony;
And if there’s any way to find our way—
Not that there is a way, a single way:
Both old and new ways are inadequate;
Although we’re always at a crossways . . .
We can’t get anywhere if we forget
The earth was once the goddess Gaia—she
Who’s still the ge in our geology.
From: An Alphabet
In honor of the birthday of John Ruskin
* Image kindly provided by Brantwood House, from Ruskin's mineral collection.