April 7 Poetry Prompt – The Element of Earth

Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Today we examine the second of our “elemental” prompts, digging our toes into the earth and considering our lives through the philosophical model of the Western ancients.

Broaden your thinking about the element of earth – not only is it a literal thing (the ground we walk on and plant our gardens in) but it’s also such things as our diet (where we literally bring the world into ourselves), the more abstract concept of a landscape (which makes a compelling metaphor for our inner self), and despite its solidity we can watch the physical world change around us (observing the seasons, the paving over of a meadow, the push of a dandelion through the sidewalk). 

The poetry of the earth is never dead. – John Keats

 For today’s poem, do as we did with the water prompt and warm up your thinking with a short list of associations for the element of earth. Here’s mine: 

solidity, gardens, being “grounded,” the waking world, endurance, fortitude, mountain, hill, cave, desert, snakes, worms, creeping things, walking, metals, gravity, earthquake, stubbornness, physicality, work, treasure, black, green and brown, Gaia theory, rigidity, ash, salts, geode, bones, Demeter and Persephone, agriculture, my onyx necklace, sensuality, density, compass points, landscapes, hidden gold, a cube, cartography, orientation towards what’s “real,” possessions, recycling, stability, Death Valley, copper mines, seeds, the mundane, ecology, asteroids, hoarding, slow-moving, practical, melancholy, methodical, the gnome, titan, golem, the genius loci and three of my favorite words ever, “chthonic,” “quartz” and “bezoar.” 

I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth. – William Faulkner 


Here are some questions to keep in mind as you consider some ways in to the earth of your life, today: 

* what feels real to you? what grounds you?

* what is your relationship to your possessions?

* how are you a world, or a landscape?

* when was the last time you laid flat on the earth? or went barefoot?

* what earthy smells, tastes, colors, textures, sounds always catch your attention?

* what is it you treasure?

* when do you feel trapped, constrained?

*what is the history of the land you live on?

* have you ever recycled an object into something better?

* do any of your bones have a story?

* did you ever dig up (unearth) something startling?

* what physical locations speak to you?

* what landscape have you never seen, that you want to before you die?

* when are you bored? depressed? when does life seem lifeless, heavy, flat?

* what is the sensation of putting down roots?

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4 Responses to April 7 Poetry Prompt – The Element of Earth

  1. My first thought was “earthquake” after the devastating ones in Christchurch (NZ) and Japan. But having written poems on these earlier, I will delve a bit deeper using your questions to see where this ‘earth element’ takes me today.

    Thanks, Jennie.

  2. Pingback: April 8 Poetry Prompt – Inheritance | InkSeeds

  3. Teri says:

    Wonderful prompt-my entry is here on my small stones blog- xo teri


  4. Pingback: April 29 Poetry Prompt – The Fifth Element | InkSeeds

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