Many seniors remember living much of their life with a feeling of optimism regarding the future, where humans and the societies they live in undergo continual improvement. Now, even the most optimistic among us contemplate future scenarios not thought possible till recently.
Green Senior Bob Lane has written some verses that put into words what many of us are feeling but for various reasons, do not wish to express. Bob is a retired professor who started the website "Gray is Green" and founded the National Senior Conservation Corps that now has 80 retirement homes involved in becoming more sustainable.
Bob was featured as a Green Senior Hero and his website is listed in the right column as a favorite link of Green Seniors.
In his poems, Bob explores the question of what happens if the effort to save our habitable planet fails. How do we deal with the prospect of our own species extinction, not as a distant possibility, but happening within a few generations? Happening because of what those of us alive today did or failed to do?
This subject is distressing. If it is too disturbing to you, the poem below may not be suitable reading. However, sometimes confronting our worst fears makes us more effective at doing what needs to be done. In that spirit, and with the permission of the author, here is one selection taken from Robert E. Lane's "If Conservation Fails: Explorations in Verse on Human Extinction."
ELEGY FOR A TRANSIENT SPECIES
Farewell to thought of living and to death.
To neither life nor death can we aspire.
Being, itself, has vanished with our breath.
No longer dark puts out the light – for both expire.
Mind lost its way when habitats were closed:
As drowning waters changed the coast’s frontier,
And once-lush land by deserts are foreclosed,
And carbon gas corrupts the atmosphere.
All beauty is unseen from this time hence!
The poetry of Milton speaks to none.
The gift of books is not the gift of sense –
But food for termites who have overrun.
The world survives and follows up its plan.
But Homo Sapiens has joined the crew
Of evolved species that outlived their span.
So other species flourish where we grew.
We vanished with a whimpering, un-blest.
Who follows now the vagrant human quest?
We’ve written “Finis” to the Age of Man.