Friday, 10 February 2012


It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet,
has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness;
and the hands keep on moving,
smoothing the holy surfaces.

Pablo Neruda
'In Praise of Ironing'

It has to be loved the way a laundress loves her linens,
the way she moves her hands caressing the fine muslins
knowing their warp and woof,
like a lover coaxing, or a mother praising.
It has to be loved as if it were embroidered
with flowers and birds and two joined hearts upon it.
It has to be stretched and stroked.
It has to be celebrated.
O this great beloved world and all the creatures in it,
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet.

The trees must be washed, and the grasses and mosses.
They have to be polished as if made of green brass.
The rivers and little streams with their hidden cresses
and pale-coloured pebbles
and their fool's gold
must be washed and starched or shined into brightness,
the sheets of lake water
smoothed with the hand
and the foam of the oceans pressed into neatness.
It has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness.

and pleated and goffered, the flower-blue sea
the protean, wine-dark, grey, green, sea
with its metres of satin and bolts of brocade.
And sky - such an O! overhead - night and day
must be burnished and rubbed
by hands that are loving
so the blue blazons forth
and the stars keep on shining
within and above
and the hands keep on moving.

It has to be made bright, the skin of this planet
till it shines in the sun like gold leaf.
Archangels then will attend to its metals
and polish the rods of its rain.
Seraphim will stop singing hosannas
to shower it with blessings and blisses and praises
and, newly in love,
we must draw it and paint it
our pencils and brushes and loving caresses
smoothing the holy surfaces.

Patricia Kathleen Page

By special resolution of the United Nations, in 2001 Page's poem "Planet Earth" was read simultaneously in New York, the Antarctic, and the South Pacific to celebrate the International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.


  1. Breath-taking, and all the more so as this is the kind of thing that has such a great danger of not working at all.

  2. yes, we're big on ceremonies, but short on common sense. . . .

    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  3. I have to say your poem was very brilliant and a good read. At the moment I am doing a presentation on environmental sustainability, and reading a moving poem like yours will give me the emotions that I need to bring my message across.

    Am using the movie The Day After Tomorrow as the basis of the presentation, and I would like to use the picture you are using in your poem on one of my slides. If you give me permission I will include your image and correctly cite it using A.P.A style referencing (what we use in the I.T department).

    It has taken me until the last 2 years to really think about the consequences of how greed and overconsumption of our resources can drive our planet into a state of chaos. Through reading your poem, I can see that you have a great respect for the environment :).

    If you watch The Day After Tomorrow (between 1:47:00 and 1:49:00), you will see the president give a heartfelt and moving speech about how we need to take care of the environment more and the fact we can't keep consuming resources the way we are. If only the governments and corporations of this world would be serious in real life and not just in movies, we would improve greatly.

  4. Thank you for sharing this poem. It is a piece that demands reading aloud, so I was happy to also read how the UN made the resolution that it was to be read around the world. It's wonderful, such imagery!


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