Love Poem Earth

Poem for a Tuesday — “Love Poem Earth” by Shu Ting

I love earth

Just as I love my wordless father

Earth breathing warmth with its rivers of blood

Earth fermenting with sweat, fertile with oil

Quickening slightly under the strong plow and bare feet

Rising and falling from heat at the heart’s core

You must shoulder bronze statues, monuments, museums

But sign the last judgment on the line of the fault.

My frost-crusted, mud-coated, sun-cracked earth

My stern, generous, indignant earth

Earth granting me skin color and language

Earth granting me wisdom and strength

I love earth

Just as I love my compassionate mother

Robust earth covered with kissprints from the sun’s lips

Collector of leaf-layers, of sprouts springing up after sprouts

Time and again abandoned by man, never abandoning man

Creating each sound, each color, each curse

And still you are called dirt.

My lead-lustred, red-pooled, white-spotted earth

My rough, lonely, untended earth

Earth granting me love and hate

Earth granting me pain and joy

Father grants me an infinite dream

Mother grants me a sensitive heart

The lines of my poems

are the sounds of the gramtree grove

Day and night sending out to the earth

its incessant shower of loveseed

— in Smoking People, chapbook 19. The Beloit Poetry Journal, vol. 39, no. 2, Winter 1988/1989, page 20.

Shu Ting is a modern Chinese poet associated with the Misty Poets, a group of 20th-century Chinese writers whose work speaks to the restrictions on art during the Cultural Revolution. After her father was accused of ideological aberrance, he moved the family to the countryside to avoid government scrutiny. She began writing poetry at age 27 and published in the underground journal Jīntiān. During the “anti-spiritual pollution” movement of the 1980s, Shu and other writers were deemed subversive and faced strong criticism from the state.

Photo by Damir on