Climate Elegy and Ode

Mayor

Indya Kincannon
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Poem written for the U.T. Southeast Climate Science Conference set for March 27, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled.

By Marilyn Kallet



Climate Elegy and Ode
           
Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness? Alas,
  more like seasons of withered
grass and wildfires,

seasons of flood, seasons
of drought.
When a 16-year-old is 

smarter than an elected
official, you tell me––
whom should I vote for?

And that “Ode to a Nightingale”––
when was the last time
you lingered in melodious trill?

In the age of humans, 
  in the anthropocene,
we’re the ones who must

save our planet, 
our children’s
future, reverse the burn.

Sunscreen alone won’t do it,
my friends. Listen to the 
zebra finches warble about warming.

They hatch smaller eggs now, that
hold a greater chance 
of thriving.

Like them, we must
build smaller, more
sustainable nests. 

The children are singing boldly,
hoping 
the adults will hear.

Listen, this may be our 
one shot 
at composing a score 


for them and theirs. 
Let’s sing as if
the air 

and life itself 
depends 
on our tender,

determined
voices.


Note: The opening line is from Keats’s “Ode to Autumn.”