Saturday, 12 November 2016

Living With The Volcano

22:09:00 Posted by Steve Rowland , , , , 2 comments
I guess it's not uppermost in our everyday minds that we are living on the very thin crust of a slowly cooling fireball! However, we all know that earth has a molten core and some of its magma occasionally discharges through fissures in the crust when tectonic plates move apart.

All the evidence suggests that the past several million years were far more violent in terms of volcanic activity, that the planet may be calming down a little in middle age. Nevertheless, the effects of eruptions, when they occur, are both terrifying and beautiful.

My fellow bloggers have already done justice to the spectacle of the volcanic process this week (check out the top ten eruptions of all time in Thursday's blog, for instance), so let me focus on living with the volcano...

Volcanic eruptions, when they occur, are awesomely fascinating episodes, but once volcanos have become dormant (if not extinct) then they are equally awe-inspiring as features of the natural landscape - witness Mount Fuji above, one of the most iconic of vents.

Volcanic slopes are often very fertile, thanks to the ash and minerals that have spewed forth. Therefore people are eager to colonise and cultivate their sides, like happy fleas on the flanks of an enormous beast. They view their tenuous hold as a risk worth taking for the evident benefits. They trust that the beast won't awaken (at least in their lifetime) and mostly they are right. Plus, the views are spectacular.

In bygone eras, any rumbling from the mountain, any pouring forth of smoke or fire would have been taken as a sign that the Gods were angry and sacrifices (often human ones) would have been offered in appeasement, an act akin to paying rent for a tenuous foothold on the rich volcanic foothills.

Nowadays, seismologists perform the duty that used to fall to augurers and holy men, of giving due warning to those who choose to live with the volcano that times are about to get tricky once more.

For a change this week, a somewhat caustic concrete poem inspired partly by the shape of magnificent Mount Fuji and partly by a vignette (sadly often repeated) from a tempestuous past relationship, which served to remind me just how thin a veneer the crust of civility actually is...

you do finally
blow your top after
smouldering for days over
some oft repeated annoyance of
which I am supposedly guilty, though am
sublimely unaware, of course I know it doesn't help that
I merely remark how beautiful you look when you are angry!
Not true, by the way, I say this just to mollify or exasperate, take it how you will.
I know that after this eruption has disgorged itself you will be more easygoing for a while.
My constant regret is that we're locked into this cycle and you don't appear to know any other
way. To me, it seems so obvious that just to talk would help, but you refuse, preferring to hurl abuse.
It makes me wonder if, more likely when, I'll reach the stage when I'd prefer a little dormancy, even extinction!

Thanks for reading. Keep calm and wax poetical, S ;-)


Anonymous said...

I haven't come across many concrete poems but this one makes the case very well - great shape, imaginative use of colour (not seen that before) and the form didn't distract from the content. More please.

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully presented blog.I read it first on my cell phone and it was only when I accessed it again on the computer that I got the full impact of the concrete poem and the Mt Fuji images. Great poem and most interesting blog. Thank you much.