Friday, December 24, 2010

Hero, Hero

Atlas sculpture on Collins Street, Melbourne

This poem was written by U.K. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to celebrate National Poetry Day, 2009.

by Carol Ann Duffy

Give him strength, crouched on one knee in the dark
with the Earth on his back,
balancing the seven seas,
the oceans, five, kneeling
in ruthless, empty, endless space
for grace
of whale, dolphin, sea-lion, shark, seal, fish, every kind
which swarms the waters. Hero.

Hard, too,
heavy to hold, the mountains;
burn of his neck and arms taking the strain-
Andes, Himalayas, Kilimanjaro-
give him strength, he heaves them high
to harvest rain from skies for streams
and rivers, he holds the rivers,
holds the Amazon, Ganges, Nile, hero, hero.

Hired by no-one, heard in a myth only, lonely,
he carries a planet's weight,
islands and continents,
the billions there, his ears the last to hear
their language, music, gunfire, prayer;
give him strength, strong girth, for elephants,
tigers, snow leopards, polar bears, bees, bats,
the last ounce of a humming-bird.

in infinite, bleak black,
he bears where Earth is, nowhere,
head bowed, a genuflection to the shouldered dead,
the unborn's hero, he is love's lift;
sometimes the moon rolled to his feet, a gift.


You can hear it here.
Some info about Atlas

Mary Lee is hosting Poetry Friday this Christmas Eve.


Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha.

I love the last two lines of the poem. What a beautiful image.

Thanks for the tip about the PF host today! You've got my back and that makes you a HERO :-)

Unknown said...

The alliteration (especially the *h*) is both strong and gentle. And the bestiary list...

"The last ounce of a humming-bird."

Thank you for all of this. When the moon rolls, it really is a gift.

Mary Lee said...

We don't thank our Atlases nearly enough, do we?