This is my letter to the future

Emily DickinsonThis is my letter to the future,
That cannot write to me,—
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet citizens,
Behave more tenderly!

{All apologies and honor to Emily Dickinson and to her “This is my letter to the world“}


Other Inspiration

Letters to the Future, a group formed to draw attention to the importance of the upcoming U.N. climate talks, is collecting letters from authors, artists, scientists and others, written to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the U.N. gathering, to be held in Paris this December. The letters may be read here.

The project was envisioned by Melinda Welsh, Founding Editor of the Sacramento News & Review and her spouse Dave Webb of David Marketing. It has been a collaborative effort between the Association of Alternative Newsmedia newspapers and the Media Consortium, an international network of Left-leaning journalism organizations. The project has been orchestrated by Deborah Redmond.


    • Thanks, Deborah. Emily did most of the writing. I keep wondering (and in line with Diana’s comment) as to why a poem seems the right response? On one level, it seems that a more analytic approach would require a discussion of global capitalism and the place of individuals and opinions within it. Nothing wrong with such an analysis, of course, but speaking from the heart, as a poem can, seems simpler.

      • William,
        We’ve had several poems submitted recently, and I think you are exactly correct – speaking from the heart is a powerful way to address this topic. We were hoping for that when we asked people to imagine their grandchildren’s grandchildren…
        Thanks again for participating in our project.

      • Oh, Deborah, excuse me; I did not realize how central you were to the Letters to the Future project! Congratulations to you and your colleagues. I have spread word of it to many people, all of whom have been enthusiastic.

  1. I’ve read the other letters, most of which made me depressed, whereas your selection is a gentle reminder we all should heed now. Yes, let’s do
    behave more tenderly. Thank you, William!

    • Thanks, Diana. I could not have done it without Emily. And I actually think there’s some kind of larger point here, as if it were a subject that needs poetry? Best, Wm.

  2. What a lovely portrait; and lovely news to the world we so little hear or heed. Took lovely eyes and sensibility to remember this just now, WIlliam. Thanks!

    • Thanks Ed. My sense is that someone retouched the portrait, giving it some appropriate redness. (I “am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur – and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves.”) I am also intrigued, let’s call it, by the fact that her original poem, begins wonderfully, unforgettably — “This is my letter to the world, / That never wrote to me” — yet I have not found it one of her richest poems. And yet, when put in the context of this idea of a “letter to the future” (regarding environmental devastation and our fears of it), her words come to new life. Somewhere I wrote — can’t find it now — that it may prove that what the United States had to give to the world was, above all, Dickinson’s poetry.

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