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I Sit and Look Out

by Barnhill, David L. last modified Aug 31, 2010 11:19 AM

Praise life, it deserves praise, but the praise of life / That forgets the pain is a pebble / Rattled in a dry gourd. (Robinson Jeffers)

"I Sit and Look Out"

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame; 
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;   
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;        
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women; 
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;    
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like. 
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am  silent.                                                                                                             
--Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass, 83.  


"One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise."
--Aldo Leopold, “The Round River,” Sand County Almanac (New York: Ballatine, 1970): 197.


“Mankind has gone very far into an artificial world of his own creation. He has sought to insulate himself, in his cities of steel and concrete, from the realities of earth and water and the growing seed. Intoxicated with a sense of his own power, he seems to be going farther and farther into more experiments for the destruction of himself and his world.”
--Rachel Carson, Lost Worlds: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson (Boston: Beacon, 1998): 175.


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by Barnhill, David L. last modified Aug 31, 2010 11:19 AM