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Friday, 21 October 2005

Earthquakes and poetry

I keep a regular track of the visitors to the series of weblogs which I host using sitemeter. This helps me to see how many visitors are looking at the site, how they get there, and a rough idea of where they are located.

Yesterday someone did a search on MSN Search looking for 'poems on earthquake' and found my weblog for the poetry press which I run. There is a book of poetry which I wrote a few years ago called 'Umbrian Images' which includes a poem about the earthquake in Assisi in 1997. The site visitor was in Pakistan and was therefore presumably looking for poetry about the Pakistan earthquake.

Well, as a response to this, I thought I should do two things. First, post the poem about Assisi - I think it brings into focus the difference between these two disasters. This year has been filled with disasters of immense scale and suffering. It is easy to become numb to it all. But I think we just need to keep responding, doing what we can. The world of global media is a two-edged sword which offers us information on an unprecedented scale and immediacy - but it does give an armageddon quality to all of this. Our reaction and support is vital. (There's a useful post about the impact of the internet on our view of disasters by Seth Godin here.) Which brings me to the second thing I can do as a response. Follow the link to the Disasters Emergency Committee to donate to the Appeal for the Asian Earthquake. Please help.

Assisi Earthquake
(some words taken from a Daily Telegraph article)

On the western edge of town
firemen fear the roof of the upper basilica
might not withstand
heavy rainfall.

The magnificent campanile’s bells
which sound when St Francis’s birds flock
have been eerily silenced as if
their tolling might be enough
to bring the tower crashing down.

The restorer says
“I know the fresco which included this detail.
I’ve restored it twice before,
to see it like this makes my heart sink.”

One local says of the monks,
“I don’t see any of them
rolling up their sleeves
and getting to work with a spade.”

twenty five thousand people
have no homes.

we look at moments of time
without the context of history
and emphasis becomes distorted.


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