Eco-critical analysis of the poem Our Earth Will Not Die by Niyi Osundare explore an emergence of the environmental crisis for the sustainable environment. To put it simply, it is a meditation on an environment- our earth.
The poem Our Earth will Not Die is written by Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare. This poem evokes earth’s well being in the future through his optimistic voice which does not believe that the earth will end. This poem talks about human activities which are directly affecting the environment and creating crisis all around the planet. Even the destructive activities are done the poet keeps hope for the earth’s long life. It creates a picturesque description of humans’ activity towards the environment. The poet has a strong belief that the earth will not die because very soon people will understand its importance in their life. The poet has created a picture of the massive destruction of the environment through his powerful words. Osundare has brought the environmental issue in his poem with the hope of making people aware of their activities. When literature brings environmental issues there emerges eco-criticism. Therefore, this poem brings people’s exploiting activity in a literary form; it has a hope that people will understand the real importance of nature in their lives and accept the responsibility to bring the nature back in its past form. So, the title itself brings optimistic tone as Our Earth will Not Die. Eco-critical analysis of the poem Our Earth Will Not Die by Niyi Osundare is concerned with nature, environmental crisis our earth and human poem.
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The word “Eco-criticism” has emerged in 1996 through the anthology entitled The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology (1996), edited by Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm. This book is a gathering of deliberately chose papers on the natural way to deal with abstract examinations. As the expositions in this book demonstrate, eco-feedback plans to bring a change of artistic investigations by connecting scholarly feedback and hypothesis with the natural issues on the loose. To characterize it Cheryll Glotfelty composes, “eco-criticism is the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment” (1996: xviii). Eco-criticism launches a call to literature to connect to the issues of today’s environmental crisis. So, eco-criticism is directly concerned with both nature and the environment. In the poem Our Earth will Not Die the poet has brought the largest issue of the present era; he has shown the destruction and exploitation of the environment done by humans. This poem critically satires on human activities that are really affecting the environment as well as keeps faith in its life that is not going to be ended. Therefore, this poem connects the issue of environmental crisis with literature; it is the eco-critical poem.
This poem largely includes an issue of environmental crisis where everything is changed, negatively, and natural regulation is diversified in a different way. Nature has stopped its works and its work is disturbed by so-called civilized humans. The poet shows humans’ non-human activity towards nature:
a lake is killed by the arsenic urine
from the bladder of profit factories
a poisoned stream staggers down the hills
coughing chaos in the sickly sea
the wailing whale, belly up like frying fish,
crests the chilling swansong of parting waters.
But our earth will not die (11-17).
Here, the poet brings an image where the lake has lost its originality because of human’s capitalistic perspective. The use of arsenic urine is badly affecting sea life and to the creatures of the sea. The poet is trying to picture how people are being really inhuman to the other creatures of the earth. Earth is kept in the center and as the theme of this poem. Therefore, eco-criticism takes an earth-centered approach to literature and an ecological approach to literary criticism.
Eco-criticism mainly concentrates on how literature interacts with and participates in the entire ecosphere. It attempts to find a common ground between human and nonhuman to show how they coexist in various ways because the environmental issues have become an integral part of human existence. So, this attempts to create environmental consciousness among the readers through literary writings. Osundare has widely connected his poem with ecosphere talking about environmental crisis and degrading importance of nature in the consciousness of the human mind because of monetary mindset.
And the rain
the rain falls, acid, on balding forests
their branches amputated by the septic daggers
of tainted clouds
Weeping willows drip mercury tears
in the eye of sobbing terrains
a nuclear sun rises like a funeral ball
reducing man and meadow to dust and dirt.
But our earth will not die (22-30).
This stanza shows how the forest is being affected by nuclear bombs and produced gas. Rain is affected and caused acid rainfall. The problem of environmental crisis is heightened by poisonous gas produced by nuclear experiments. So, by showing these effects of acid rainfall the poet is trying to create consciousness among the readers.
This poem focuses on ecological importance in human lives. Consciousness-raising in environmental thinking, and ethical and aesthetic dilemmas posed by the global ecological crisis forces literary scholars to recognize the important role literature and criticism play in understanding people’s position in the ecosphere. And as a result, this poem emerged in literary works. Literature is taken as to moral instruction process to create environmental consciousness among the people. Eco-criticism can and indeed should explore the ways in which literature and ecology interact, it should not do so at the expense of a naïve reduction of literary texts into mere transcriptions of the physical world, and by the politicization of literature itself. There is a question that can or should literature serve as an agency of awareness. Therefore, nature must be textualized in literary texts to create an eco-literary discourse that would help to produce an intertextual as well as an interactive approach between language and the language of nature.
Literary ecology is a projection of human ideas about human responsibility into the natural environment. This poem is also making people realization of their bad acts towards nature. How they are misusing the nature and the way they have changed it is projected in this poem. The poet is with full of hope that very soon people will understand about their behavior towards nature and they will bring back nature in its past form. Therefore he repeats many times the phrase “But our earth will not die”. The main purpose of this poem could be making people realize about their acts and to arouse responsibility concerning nature and its life. Cruelty done by human beings to the other creatures is clearly depicted in this poem:
Fishes have died in the waters. Fishes.
Birds have died in the trees. Birds.
Rabbits have died in their burrows. Rabbits.
But our earth will not die.
Here, the death of the birds, fishes, and rabbits contain the meaning of world’s end. Nature is marginalized, silenced and pushed backward. Human beings are responsible for their death and their exploitation so, humans must be responsible for their duties towards nature and its safety. The poet still keeps faith in nature’s life. Even the fishes are dying we can decrease the number of death and reproduce fish friendly environment. Therefore, the poet suggests people in a hopeful tone to bring back nature in its previous form.
Eco-criticism can explore what we call a discursively manipulated nonhuman world in literature, and discuss how it gets marginalized or silenced by, or incorporated into the human language. The verbal constructions of nature, either in romanticized, idealized form, or as hostile wilderness, especially in poetry and fiction, usually lead to the binary way of present catastrophic abuse of nature. It embarks upon the project of re-conceptualization of nature. The language of nature should speak through human discourses. The voice of abused nature is spoken through different genres of literature. The poem Our Earth will Not Die speaks of abused nature’s condition in the present world. The verbal construction is highly critical in its tone which directly attacks human abuse towards nature. The silenced voice of nature is voiced through literary texts. The poet has adopted an environmental issue to talk about his literary work which provokes against the marginalization of nature.
Eco-criticism enables the pundit to analyze the textualizations of the physical condition in the abstract talk itself and to build up an earth-focused way to deal with scholarly examinations. For this situation, the intersection of the limits between the human and nonhuman circles would empower the ecocritic to break down the manners by which a natural vision is tended to or subverted in artistic writings. Rather ecocriticism should center around the printed methodologies of abstract messages in building a naturally educated talk about the manners by which people associate with other living things. The reception of biological wording is in actuality an upgrading procedure towards building up a more far-reaching viewpoint in the abstract field. Furthermore, as Rueckert obviously expresses that trying different things with “the application of ecology and ecological concepts to the study of literature… has the greatest relevance to the present and future of the world we all live in” (1996:107). Therefore, ecocriticism studies the relationship of literary texts with the nature and the impact on the environment created by humans.
Eco-centric literary texts do not always criticize human activities rather it keeps optimism about humans’ activities too. This poem by Osundare also shows optimism. The poet believes that there will come one day where everyone will enjoy the rain without acid, without poisonous gas. This faith encourages readers to fight against the environmental crisis. The hope aroused in the readers strengthens their ambition to bring back nature in its past form. The poet imagines a healthy environment:
Our earth will see again
eyes washed by a new rain
the westering sun will rise again resplendent like a new coin.
The wind unwound, will play its tune
trees twittering, grasses dancing;
hillsides will rock with blooming harvests
the plains batting their eyes of grass and grace.
The sea will drink its heart’s content
when a jubilant thunder flings open the skygate and a new rain
in drums of joy.
Our earth will see again
this earth, OUR EARTH (35-47).
Human’s faithfulness has the power to create a new healthy, environmentally friendly world. These lines are full of hope which imagines the world without abuse of humans towards nature. Nature’s freedom is projected with full of hope. Every creature of the earth is treated equally because they all have equal importance in their existence. Therefore, these lines convey the message that every creature in the universe should have their own dignity of the existence and have the freedom to live like other human beings.
A culture we are developing in the name of being modern and more civilized is supporting lots in the environmental crisis. Culture plays a crucial role to shape the form and meaning of nature in a whole. Nature is imaged in the texts through the language and portrayed as what is and how people have converted it in destructive form. So, a kind of culture people are developing in a new form has a crucial impact on the environment. The interconnection between nature and culture is the subject matter of eco-criticism. Barry Commoner says “everything is connected to everything else”. So, culture leaves impacts on nature and nature influences human culture too. The materialistic concept people are developing has become the contributory factor to destroy nature and the environment.
The conclusion of the Eco-critical analysis of the poem Our Earth Will Not Die by Niyi Osundare
In conclusion, the researcher examines the poem Our Earth will Not Die from the eco-critical point of view where the poet criticizes human exploitation over nature. He shows the hidden faith in human behavior which believes that someday people will understand and bring back nature in its previous form. This poem describes disturbed ecology and its impact on human civilization and vice versa. The poet brings human and non-human realms together to show that all creatures of nature is as equal as human. Humans themselves alone cannot make an existence on the earth. Eco-criticism itself is an earth-centered approach to study the nature and environment. So, the poet brings earth as a center to the environment where every creature of the earth has equal importance; the belief that if the earth is alive then humans are also alive. By bringing the destructed form of nature, the poet has tried to imply the meaning of interconnectedness of humans with nature. Therefore, this poem is optimistic towards earth’s life and the power of nature in front of human beings. Eco-critical analysis of the poem Our Earth Will Not Die by Niyi Osundare is concerned with nature, environmental crisis our earth and human poem.
Awasthi, JaiRaj. Explorations in English. Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 2011.
Glotfelty, Cheryll, and Fromm, Harold. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in
Literary Ecology, Athens, Georgia, and London: The University of Georgia Press, 1996.
Rueckert, William. “Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism,” in Glotfelty
and Fromm,1996: 105-123.
Devall, Bill, and Sessions, George. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered, Salt Lake
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By Kala Limbu